Trevor Henson knows firsthand the impact bullying can have on a person’s life.
So, he’s made it his mission to confront bullying in Collingwood once and for all.
“We have to figure out why it is happening and how we can stop it,” said Henson. “I was bullied in public school and in high school and I don’t want anyone to ever get bullied at any stage of their life.”
“I still get bullied, I just have learned to deal with it,” he added.
Henson has been an anti-bullying advocate for several years and helped found the Collingwood Public Library anti-bullying club in 2017.
The all-ages club is intended to raise awareness and encourage community members to come together and create a safe space to share experiences and support each other. Since COVID-19 hit, the club has continued to meet virtually.
“We need to acknowledge that there is a problem with bullying and provide more support. It affects your mental health, it also affects people’s anxieties,” Henson said.
Additionally, every February for the last four years, Henson has raised the town’s Stop Bullying flag in honour of Pink Shirt Day and anti-bullying week in Collingwood.
While there was no formal gathering this year, Henson still hoisted the flag with the help of Mayor Brian Saunderson.
In order to overcome his own bullying in the past, Henson taught himself to take the high road.
“I took it upon myself to recognize that whoever was bullying me probably was bullied too. So I tried not to lower myself to their standards. I wanted to try to understand where they were coming from, because they might have had the same issues or maybe they were brought up a certain way,” Henson said.
“Everyone is unique and we all have abilities. I hate the word disability, we all have the ability to do something," he said.
Henson said others can help by removing themselves from the sidelines.
“Just being there, being the devil’s advocate and standing up for someone,” said Henson.
When restrictions allow, Henson hopes to continue raising awareness by distributing t-shirts and buttons and keeping the conversation going all year long. He also wants to help other communities start their own anti-bullying clubs.
“Now more than ever, because of COVID, we need to stick together. We can all get through this if we just stay positive,” he said. “When I started this, it was small. I am not going to let it go. I will be here for the Collingwood community. I will always be their voice. As long as I am still living, Collingwood will always have an anti-bullying club.”
Anyone interested in joining the library’s Anti-Bullying Club can register at the public service desk at the library, or call 705-445-1571.