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Elementary students design custom pink shirts ahead of anti-bullying day

Hundreds of shirts printed and distributed to all students

At Mary Ward Elementary in Niagara Falls, a simple but powerful message will be extra visible for Pink Shirt Day - a worldwide day where focus is put on bullying.

"Pulling someone down will never help you reach the top", is the slogan that grade 8 student Alessia Rocca thinks best serves as a reminder to her and her peers in todays tough climate, where bullying happens both online and in real life.

"People can be mean to others because the like different things. Everyone should be allowed to be themselves", she said as the shirts were handed out on Wednesday morning, one week ahead of the national Pink Shirt Day.

The school has observed Pink Shirt Day since the start several years ago, but it is the first time that the school gets custom-made shirts, that will be distributed to each of Mary Ward's 472 students and 40 staff members.

Another designer on the team that saw their design make the shirt is grade 5-student Elle Basilone.

"You have to help people. Not bring them down", she proclaimed as she put her pink shirt on.

Both designers agree that while bullying is a big problem, they see a glimmer of hope at their school, where it is not uncommon for others to speak up against mean comments.

"I see people helping and talking to people who say mean things, and trying to make them understand why they shouldn't. I think that is very important", said Alessia Rocca.

The tradition began in 2007 in Nova Scotia, when two students bought and distributed 50 pink shirts at a high school after a student was harassed for wearing one.