Allan Fabrykant knows all too well about the harm bullying can do.
“I used to get bullied in my old school,” said Fabrykant, who now attends Glenview Senior Public School. “Everyday, I would come home with a new bruise, and it was so depressing.”
Every morning in grade 3, Fabrykant would say he didn’t want to go to school, but his parents felt helpless.
“My mom knew, but she really couldn’t do anything, and neither could any of the teachers,” said Fabrykant. “It was the teachers who would just say, as Jason told me at the beginning of our program, that they would bring us in and say ‘Do you apologize?’ and they would say ‘yeah, sure.’
“And then, the person that was doing the bullying would say ‘good thing you didn’t tell, because next time, if you do tell, you will get hurt.’ ”
At the Don Mills library Jan. 29, youth group Youth Assisting Youth hosted a seminar about bullying, what it is and how it can be addressed. It was here that Fabrykant was all ears, hearing the stories and taking photos of the guest speakers — including Andre Durie, Toronto Argonauts running back, and Jason Colero, who heads the Argos Foundation.
“To be the person who’s not just a bystander, you got to be an upstander, you have to do something about this,” said Colero, who was bullied during his high school years at Runnymede Collegiate. “Watching it happen is not going to solve the issue for anyone, you have to do something positive and safe for yourself and someone else, and understand that what you’re doing is setting a pathway for success for someone for the rest of their life.”
This meeting is apart of the launch of the 12th year of the Argos’ Huddle Up bullying prevention program, a program that has reached out to more than 300,000 students. Argos players share personal stories that encourage inclusion and friendship.
“In my third year at York University, I had a lot of accolades, and I was relying on football to bring me some kind of peace so I could make the NFL or CFL, so I could make a life for my family, provide for my kids,” said Durie, who scored the winning touchdown in the 100th Grey Cup game in November. “And I ended up tearing my knee.”
At one point, Durie was told he shouldn’t play football and that he may not walk properly again. “I realize that, going through the process of surgeries, I was limiting myself,” Durie said. “I was telling myself ‘Why me? Why am I in this situation?’ instead of learning from the situation, using the people that are there for me to better myself.”
It was this emphasis on a better attitude that was one of the themes discussed on the evening.
“I’ve noticed that bullies do not react well to a kid that stands up for others and for themselves,” said Tytan Mohamed, who attends Northern Secondary School and takes part in bullying prevention programs there. “If a kid was bullying someone else, I was afraid I might get beat up for standing up for the person, but I stood up for them.
“He reacted in the way of ‘Oh, you’re fighting for him? Okay, I’m going to back off.’ ”
Fabrykant has since graduated to middle school, and is highly involved with Youth Assisting Youth, providing leadership to others his age. His mother, Silvia Derasner, now takes part in bullying prevention with the Glenview staff.
For Fabrykant, having this meeting and bringing in the Argos is great therapy.
“It’s wonderful to have people [here] that are going through what you’re going through currently,” Fabrykant said. “And you can see how they’re persevering, so that can help you in your future.”
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