Anti-bullying Awaress of Key Importance to our Communities

 Darrell Kuhn, CEO; Charlotte MacVicar, Board Chair; Pam Murchison; Sharron & Tom Brown

Left to Right:  Darrell Kuhn, CEO; Charlotte MacVicar, Board Chair; Pam Murchison; Sharon & Tom Brown

The message was clear as Community Credit Union hosted its annual general meeting – it’s time to put a stop to bullying.

Held at the Best Western Glengarry, the room was a sea of pink as the majority of Community Credit Union members who attended the AGM wore pink shirts in support of the organization’s efforts to take a stand against bullying.

Right from the very beginning, Darrell Kuhn, the organization’s CEO said this year’s AGM had a different feel to it because of the anti-bullying theme. That’s because in addition to conducting normal business, two donations of $2,500 were made to the CYBER Internet Safety Society and Team Courtney.  “We started this anti-bullying campaign close to two years ago and it’s really taken on a life of its own,” said Kuhn. “It just seems to continually pick up speed. For us, it culminated at our AGM. We’ve all heard about the bad things that are happening to some of the youth in our communities. We thought this was a good time to stand behind the efforts of those in our community who are trying to prevent these bad things from happening.”

Barry Mingo, Executive Director of CISS also gave a brief presentation on the CYBER program and how it has evolved over the years. It concluded with a special appearance by CYBER himself.  By the end of June, CISS will have made presentations in 45 schools around the province to more than 25,000 students.  “It’s still not enough,” Mingo told the crowd. “The awareness lasts approximately a week-and-a-half to two weeks. They lose the message after that. But if we’re going to have an effect on this issue, we need to start young. We have to make bullying and cyber-bullying socially unacceptable.” Mingo also told the crowd a pilot program will be launched this fall and has been designed in a way to tie in with the current curriculum being taught.

Tom and Sharon Brown were representing their daughter Courtney and the team that bears her name in the annual Walk So Kids Can Talk in support of the Kids Help Phone. Courtney committed suicide in 2011 when she was 17 years old after being bullied at school and online.  The tragedy is still something the Browns struggle to deal with on a daily basis.
“This is hard to talk about,” said Tom. “I’m able to spit out a few more words now before everything comes back and the emotion takes over. But I know the only way to keep this going is to talk about it whether it’s in the newspaper or at events like this. It’s about awareness and that’s what we need. We’ve seen and felt what bullying can do. We lost our daughter because of it. She would have been 20.”

Neither Tom nor Sharon expected a call from Community Credit Union and an invitation to attend the AGM. They were joined by Pam Murchison, who lost her daughter Jenna Bowers-Bryanton to suicide as well.  “For the Credit Union, being a community-based organization, to stand up like this and show their support in the fight against bullying is a real big thing,” continued Tom. “To get a call like this from the Credit Union and have them show their support for Team Courtney and have us here means a lot for us.”

Kuhn says the issue of bullying extends beyond the parameters of business and has reached a point where everyone needs to step up and take a stance.
He says both groups that received donations are continuing to raise awareness not only in Colchester County but around the province and that’s something that needs to be commended.
“When our board looked at where we wanted to put our money in the community, it was unanimous. Our board wasted little time in saying this is where our money needs to go,” he said. “Our members were just taken back by the stories they heard and they felt the emotion and pain that goes right along with it. We don’t want to hear any more stories like this. No parent should have to stand up in front of a crowd and talk about how their child ended their life because of bullying. This isn’t about Community Credit Union or any other business. It’s about our communities and our young people and addressing an issue that rapidly spun out of control.”

Kuhn commended Mingo and the CYBER Program for all they do as well as the Brown’s and Murchison for continuing to do what they do despite all they’ve been through.
“They’re out there, fighting this issue every day,” continue Kuhn. “When you look at Barry, he’s out there trying to make a difference. You can see his passion but we need more Barrys. We need hundreds of Barrys to continue driving this message home. We’re challenging the business community to step up and take a stand. The more money and support we can give these initiatives, the more kids we’re going to be able to reach and help. They can’t do it alone and our society has reached a point where we have to stop losing our youth over this issue. We need everyone at every level to be a part of the solution. This is just the beginning for us. We want to be even more involved.”

This year’s Walk So Kids Can Talk was held May 5. Sharon was the top pledge earner while Team Courtney was this year’s top team.

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