Saying ‘no’ to bullying and ‘yes’ to respect

The power of pink: Sierra (left to right) and Sadie Rahn and Sammy Vankevich display a confident attitude that helps them deal with the ever present and ominious threat of bullying. - John Gordon/Langley Times
The power of pink: Sierra (left to right) and Sadie Rahn and Sammy Vankevich display a confident attitude that helps them deal with the ever present and ominious threat of bullying.
— image credit: John Gordon/Langley Times

Bullying is a power struggle in which the bully uses physical or psychological means of intimidation over someone they perceive to be weaker.
Bullying is abuse and, said Shane Rahn, it occurs at home, at school and in the home.
Rahn, owner of Rahn’s Black Belt Academy, has teamed up with Judi Vankevich, aka The Manners Lady, to help Langley’s youth to say No to bullying and Yes to respect.
“We want to equip our kids, teens and adults with the skills and attitudes that are vital to say “no” to the bully and say “yes” to confidence, courtesy and respect,” Rahn said.
The pair are using the power of pink to convey their message that bullying is unacceptable and must not be tolerated.
Pink “Say ‘No’ to Bullying” T-shirts are available at Rahn’s Black Belt Academy, which is located at the rear of 20211 56 Ave.
In tandem with Pink Shirt Day today, Rahn is offering a free month of confidence, respect and martial arts training.
Vankevich has also joined forces with the B.C. Lions in the provincial gang prevention program, going into schools to help the students learn the skills to say ‘no’ to gangs, bullies and crime.
This leadership program has developed into her new anti-bullying/anti-crime leadership program called, Stand Up! Speak Out! for teens, middle schools and elementary schools.
“People around us are hurting and many feel very alone,” Vankevich said. “We want to teach young people the attitudes, words and actions of respect, kindness and empathy that build bridges of friendship rather than walls of anger and distrust.  It’s our manners and character.”
Rahn, a fifth degree black belt, commented that children need to have the confidence that comes with being prepared to stand up and face a bully.
“That’s the purpose of learning self-defense,” he said. “We want every student to know how to respond wisely and safely when threatened by unhealthy peer pressure. We want them to know that they can make a difference,” Rahn said.
Speaking as a mother of three, Vankevich shared her thoughts about how parents can best convey the anti-bullying message to their children:
“When I was younger, my mother told me to imagine that everyone we meet is wearing a giant invisible sign that says, ‘Make Me Feel Special!’  You never now what’s going on in people’s lives — who’s hurting, lonely, sick, their spouse just lost their job or got cancer — so don’t judge people.
“Just accept them the way they are and try to bring a little sunshine into their lives and think about how you can make them feel special.”

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