Empowerment, encouragement and engagement will be the focus of a series of anti-bullying workshops in Port Coquitlam.
Referred to as Challenge Days, the exercises are meant encourage dialogue between kids, parents and community members, with the end goals focusing on raising awareness and encouraging dialogue.
The three upcoming sessions are slated to run from March 12 to 14 at the Hyde Creek Recreation Centre.
"In one word, it's about growth," said Chris Eastman, a recreation program director with the city. "It is a chance for kids to step outside of their comfort zones and it provides an opportunity for youth and the adult mentors who are involved to grow in ways they didn't think possible."
Each Challenge Day session is broken up over a six-hour time frame, with workshops, role-playing games and peer mentoring featured throughout. Typically designed for kids in grades 6 through 12, the participants include about 100 kids and 30 adults: RCMP officers, teachers, counsellors and youth leaders, for example.
The day begins with activities meant to break the ice and bring the two groups together. Cellphones are turned off, talking points are brought up, and from there, the dialogue begins.
"Kids, and people in general, only show 10 per cent of who they really are," Eastman said. "This gives them the opportunity to drop that waterline and show the rest of that iceberg of their personality."
Having attended four Challenge Day sessions over the past five years, Eastman has witnessed the transformative powers of the exercise, whether it be for the victim or the bully.
"I've seen bullies come up to the microphone, break down and just say, 'I'm sorry, I didn't know I was hurting you that way,'" he recalled.
"You've got these bullies who are now hugging the people that they've victimized. It holds people emotionally accountable for their actions."
To register for Challenge Day, visit www.pocoyouth society.com.