By Andrew Hopkins, Canadian Red Cross in B.C.

Rachel Vicencio signing her name at her school's Respect Camp“If not you, then who? You have the power to help stop bullying,” says Rachel Vicencio, pictured left. She’s one of 90 leadership students at Johnston Heights Secondary School in Surrey, B.C., who has trained to become a Canadian Red Cross Beyond the Hurt Youth Facilitator.

"People don't always recognize bullying when it's happening," adds Jessie Zhu who also trained two years ago as a Youth Facilitator at Johnston Heights. "The Beyond the Hurt program makes us think about people's different behaviours around bullying, rather than just telling us 'bullying is bad, don't be a bully.'"

Students at Johnston Heights credit Leadership teacher Harriet Tuey for getting so many teens interested in bringing the program to their peers.Students at Johnston Heights credit Leadership teacher Harriet Tuey, pictured right, for getting so many teens interested in bringing the program to their peers.

“The right teacher can help build community. That’s what Ms. Tuey does. She’s helped us learn how to become great leaders in our school community,” says Ryan Si, another grade 12 student and Youth Facilitator at Johnston Heights.

“I used to be shy, timid, very closed off. Ms. Tuey gave me opportunities to work through that, like becoming a Youth Facilitator and presenting in front of a group,” says Jessie. “Ms. Tuey sees the potential in people and believes in their abilities.”

“Ms. Tuey will sometimes give you tough love, but she’s always there for you when you need someone to talk to. She makes us all better leaders,” adds Rachel.

Changing bullying behaviour doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and dedication, like staying late after school to prepare a bullying prevention presentation, or waking up early to get to events that help build awareness around the issue.

In October, Ms. Tuey and her students hosted the Shaw Respect Camp, bringing CFL All-Star receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux to Johnston Heights to share his experiences overcoming bullying. The event, presented by Shaw Communications which also supports Beyond the Hurt programming at the school, was eagerly backed by Red Cross volunteers like Rachel, Jessie, and Ryan who all participated in a panel discussion with Arceneaux. It provided them another chance to talk openly with other students about bullying in their school and how to prevent it.  

Since Johnston Heights adopted Red Cross bullying prevention programs in 2015, teens like Rachel, Jessie and Ryan have been bringing real-world strategies to other students to help them intervene and stop bullying when they see it. They are part of a team of thousands of Youth Facilitators across Canada who, each year, reach almost 750,000 young people to build safer, more inclusive communities.

This Bullying Awareness Week, the Canadian Red Cross thanks its many Beyond the Hurt Teacher Leaders and Youth Facilitators for the passion they bring to their communities.