The Langley Rivermen and their fans made their mark against bullying on Wednesday night.
As the snow floated down outside, the junior A hockey team’s players and supporters painted anti-bullying messages on the George Preston Recreation Centre ice surface.
The Rivermen and Township of Langley are partnering in an anti-bullying campaign in the lead-up to Pink Shirt Day, a nation-wide initiative happening Feb. 28.
The messages will remain in the ice for the Rivermen’s two final games this weekend (Saturday, Feb. 24 versus Merritt starting at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 25 against Prince George at 2 p.m.).
Each participant in Wednesday’s painting party received a ticket to one of the two weekend games.
The Rivermen players are fully behind Pink Shirt Day’s message of compassion, empathy, and kindness.
“It’s important for kids to grow up with confidence,” right winger Daneel Lategan said.
“Bullying needs to be choked out of the school system. I think us raising awareness and showing leadership in the community will help kids see that (kindness) is definitely a better option than bullying other kids.”
Lategan believes team sports is an excellent anti-bullying tool because it promotes inclusiveness and teamwork.
“With sports, people get to know each other and that’s how friendships start,” he said. “Growing up doing a lot of hockey and sports in school, I definitely wasn’t too much aware of it (bullying) but I knew that it occasionally happened in different ways.”
Defenceman Jake Livingstone said that, in his experience sports was a good way of connecting youngsters who wouldn’t otherwise associate with each other.
“I know a lot of kids when I was younger who were kind of outside of our group, and pretty much as soon as they started playing sports, they became part of the team and one of (our) buddies,” Livingstone said. “That was an in for them, and their way to fit in.”