Graphic T(ext) Shirts – West Valley one n ten Challenges Name Calling

By Avi Vieira

This week one n ten West Valley tackled the issue of harmful labeling, bullying, and harassment in schools and the greater community in preparation for No Name-Calling week (Jan 23rd-27th). From sharing experiences of name calling, discussing the lasting hurt labels cause, to decorating T-shirts; the group was empowered to do their part to combat bullying.

Starting with a group discussion where youth and volunteers alike were asked if they had been called any names before; whether in school or out among the community. Without exception, everyone had experienced name calling of some form, and many discovered that the labels one is given tend to last a long time, even beyond the school years. The discussion then moved into sharing individual experiences of stalking, cyber bullying and physical bullying and how each person coped with it. The exercise helped draw attention to the different forms of bullying and harassment and the power of words, especially when those words are used as a label; such as faggot or dyke, that tend to be internalized and become a part of the person’s self-identity.

The final activity of the evening involved the creation of T-shirts for No Name-Calling week, where participants were encouraged to promote the message of No Name-Calling week creatively; whether by literally wearing the names one had been called, positive slogans, or other inspiring message for others. In all it was a imaginative and encouraging way to address a troubling subject and inspire our youth to do their part to stop bullying.