An Alberta high school student who was reprimanded for posting positive messages on lockers in response to being bullied has turned the incident into a city-wide anti-bullying event.
The city of Airdrie has declared today Positive Post-it Day in honour of Caitlin Prater-Haacke, a Grade 11 student at George McDougall High School.
Last month, a fellow student broke into Prater-Haacke’s locker and used her iPad to post messages to her Facebook page, saying that she should kill herself.
Prater-Haacke was obviously upset, but decided that “something really needed to be done” about bullying at her school.
“The student body was really down about it and bullying affects everybody,” she told CTV’s Calgary Morning Live on Thursday. “It really does. Whether it be one comment or one post or in person, it’s affecting everyone.”
Prater-Haacke noticed an idea on Pinterest that showed positive messages written on simple, sticky Post-It notes. The next day, she bought 800 Post-Its and wrote messages on them such as “You are beautiful,” “You are awesome,” and “Love yourself.”
Earlier this week, she stuck them on every locker, and throughout the washrooms.
School officials pulled her out of class and reprimanded her for littering. But students loved it, and word spread throughout the community.
Members of a Facebook group called Airdrie Moms took up the cause and created a Facebook page for a proposed Positive Post-it Day.
“We wanted to make this day where we could all do it, we could all show how much we really care for each other,” Prater-Haacke said. “And that bullying happens, but we want to try and fix it.”
The campaign grew, and Airdrie city council passed a motion declaring Thursday, Oct. 9 Positive Post-it Day. Residents are encouraged to offer positive messages to anyone who needs them. They can also post pictures of their Post-it message to social media using the hashtag #positivepostit.
By early morning Alberta time, the hashtag was trending on Twitter.
— Jenn Blakeborough (@pickleforks) October 9, 2014
— Youth Central (@YouthCentralYYC) October 9, 2014
— Debra @ frilly lilly (@frillylilly) October 9, 2014
— Jenni (@BaileyUerige) October 9, 2014
— Easter Seals (@eastersealsAB) October 9, 2014
— Jillian Montalbetti (@Jillian1800) October 9, 2014
— Ainsley Woodward (@AinsleyWoo) October 9, 2014
Caitlin’s mother, Nicole Haacke, said she was “hurt and angry” when she first learned that her daughter had been bullied.
But she was inspired by Caitlin’s reaction that “she wouldn’t let the bully win.
“She knew that what was written wasn’t true. She decided that she would show them that she could rise above it and I was, and am, very, very proud of her.”
The Prater-Haacke family includes five daughters, and Nicole said the children are taught that “you can walk away” from a bully.
They also don’t have to stand by and let others be the victims of bullying.
“Bullies only have power if you allow them,” she said.
Caitlin says she understands that her Post-it note campaign won’t end bullying entirely.
“It’s one Post-it note that could brighten their day.”