Students at John Young Elementary School took a stand against bullying on March 1.
A sea of pink greeted local musician and motivational speaker Peter Joynt in honour of National Pink Shirt Day – which was Feb. 27 – created to bring awareness to the issue of bullying.
Joynt spoke about his own dealings with bullies.
“Being bullied sucks,” said Joynt, 33. “To this day I am made fun of and teased.”
Joynt has a stutter.
“I’ve stuttered for as far back as I can remember,” he said.
Joynt, who works at Innovapost in Kanata, went through speech therapy, and although the impediment usually disappears around age 20, he’s “defied the odds.”
The interesting thing about Joynt is that when he talks in normal conversation the stutter is noticeable, but when he raps or sings, the speech impediment disappears.
“I refused to let it put me in the corner and be quiet,” said Joynt.
The Westboro man speaks with the right side of his brain, which is less adapted to speech and causes a “blockage” when he forms words. Most people use the left side of the brain when talking. However, when Joynt sings or raps, his brain switches and the blockage disappears.
“I noticed long, long ago I can rap without stuttering,” he told the crowd. “It was a revelation for me.
“As soon as I perform, it’s completely fluid.”
The students clapped along as he performed Ready for More, which is often played during Ottawa Senators games, to show them how his stutter disappears.
“It’s OK to be a little different,” said Joynt. “If you have something different about you … if you accept that, that will give you so much strength.”
Joynt was first recognized in 2011 after he released his single Capcity, a love-rap about Ottawa. The video went viral and his story was broadcast nationwide. Now he spends his time speaking regularly at local schools about rapping, stuttering and bullying.
‘LOOKING FOR A REACTION’
Joynt used his own examples to explain how the children can stand up to bullying.
If someone is being a bully, walk away or don’t react to what they’re saying, he explained.
“That tends to neutralize the situation,” said the Carleton University graduate. “The bully’s just looking for a reaction out of you.”
Better yet, stand up for someone else, he said. A lot of bullies are insecure themselves and putting other people down is a way to make them feel better.
“I’ve had a number of friends stick up for me in my life – having family and friends stick up makes all the difference,” said Joynt. “Positivity is the most powerful thing in life.”
One student put up his hand and told the assembly he stuck up for his friend who was being bullied earlier that day. Joynt gave him a Capcity shirt, and handed out more to students who asked questions.
“Good things will come your way too if you’re positive,” he said. “Being normal is boring. If you’ve got something different about you – good, use it. It will take you far.”
Vice president of John Young Diane Khawas said it’s important the students take a stand again bullying.
“It has got to stop. Don’t go out with the intention to ever hurt someone,” she said. “You have the power.
“We learned the importance of standing up for others.”
Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley was also a guest at the event. His son Jamie, a graduate of John Young, took his own life after being bullied for his sexual orientation.
“I happen to know what happens when bullying goes too far,” said Hubley. “It’s very important you help each other.”
He said everyone needs to take a stand and just say “no.”
“Just keep telling somebody until it stops,” he added. “That may help somebody an awful lot.”