As a mom of two young boys, I spend a lot of time having the same conversations over and over again.
“That noise/word/song/saying is inappropriate.”
“You need to respect his space and move back.”
“How can you be hungry again? I just fed you.”
I’m used to it. Heck, at this point, I could probably break up a conflict in my sleep. But at the beginning of this school year, another topic of conversation weaved its way into our daily lives: bullying.
“I have no friends,” my seven-year old lamented. “No one wants to play with me at recess.”
The thought of my little guy – or any child for that matter – sitting alone at recess… well, it just breaks my heart. Especially for Reid, who was a popular, friendly kid – I just couldn’t understand what had changed.
After sitting down and chatting with Reid, and then chatting with his teacher, I learned that his friends were playing a hurtful game of “exclusion” – where they ignored one child for a few days, then ignored another. The child who was cast aside was not allowed to play with the “clique” of friends until they decided it was allowed again.
Reid had been a willing participant in the game, but didn’t see the consequences of his actions until he was the one ostracized from his friends. And even though it saddened me to realize that games like this exist – even among seven-year olds – it provided an excellent teaching moment for me, and a chance to have an open discussion with both my boys about bullying, inclusion and kindness.
Our goal is always, always to spread kindness.
This year, I’m pleased to share that Planet Fitness, the innovative health club franchise known for its Judgement Free Zone and affordable prices, has once again partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada to help address bullying among youth .
From October 2 through October 13, Planet Fitness is inviting Canadians to join for a $5 down enrollment fee for memberships beginning as low as $10 a month. Planet Fitness and its franchisees will donate 100% of the enrollment fees to Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
“The feeling of belonging makes a positive impact on the lives of children and youth,” says Owen Charters, President & CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. “We are pleased that Planet Fitness is partnering with our Clubs to support anti-bullying initiatives and promote self-esteem, inclusion, and empowerment for our young people.”
It’s my job to raise humans who take a stand against bullying. The lessons they learn at a young age can help guide their decisions through the teen years, when bullying occurs more frequently in Canada than 2/3 of Western countries – every 25 minutes in classrooms, on average.
For my boys, recess is a time of physical activity, fresh air and friendships – three things that should dominate the playground. I’ve used Reid’s brush with bullying to highlight the importance of promoting kindness and inclusion, especially since he now understands the impact of hurtful actions. Thankfully, he has a great role model in his older brother, Ryder.
(Yeah, that’s the kid who won the “Virtue of Kindness” Award three years in a row. Couldn’t be more proud of this sweet nine-year old.)
Are you looking to make a change for the better? Planet Fitness has been a proud champion of encouraging people to be “judgement free,” inviting members to come work out as they are, without fear of being criticized or judged. Between October 2 and October 13, the $5 down from every new membership will support programs to prevent bullying and promote a culture of kindness through Planet Fitness’ philanthropic initiative The Judgement Free Generation™. Existing members are also welcome to make an in-club donation to the cause during that timeframe.
I know that our recent experience with bullying won’t be our last. But I also know that the easiest way to fight bullying is to spread kindness… and that’s the newest topic of conversation in our household.
For more information, visit www.planetfitness.ca.
This post is sponsored by Planet Fitness. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.