A new mural is bursting forth with colour from the side of Belmont secondary school, a symbol of unity among students and a promise to end bullying and discrimination.
Organized by the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, the Rainbow Mural is made up of the painted handprints of about 1,000 student and staff at the school.
Those who left their handprint on the mural are also taking a pledge, written at the bottom, to treat each other with kindness and speak up when they see bullying taking place.
“The hands symbolize the helping hand you give someone,” said Grade 12 student Cassidy Kennedy on Wednesday, the International Day of Pink. “You don’t know whose handprint it is but you know that they’re there. That’s a really strong message we’re hoping to get to everyone.”
“Especially students who are being bullied,” said recent Belmont alumni Justin Jordan, who penned the pledge.
“So they actually look up to it and know that it’s not just counsellors and adults who are there for them, but the actual student body as well.”
The students say experience with bullying in their pasts and seeing others struggling with it drove their desire to complete the project. While the amount of bullying they see at Belmont is minimal, the students say that’s partly because most of it has gone online.
“I want to make sure no kid has to go through what I went through,” said Ashliegh Burton, Grade 12.
“It’s easier to hide your face rather than saying it to someone’s face. … It’s just easier to hide behind a computer,” Kennedy said.
Over a year in the making, the Rainbow Mural made its debut on the north wall of the school at a school event Wednesday afternoon featuring a barbecue and music from local band NorthTown.
The mural is on sheets of plywood so it can be removed and spared once the current Belmont secondary is torn down.
The students involved hope it can be put up at the new Belmont when it’s complete, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Students and staff timed the revealing of the mural to coincide with the Day of Pink, a movement which promotes the wearing of pink clothing as a representation of the denouncement of bullying and discrimination.