INNISFAIL – Lily Orr is a 16-year-old teen who has passion.
She was passionate about her own clothing line and branded it. She is passionate about her community, and equally so about the issues impacting it.
When Pink Shirt Day was approaching in February, she wanted to commemorate it properly and passionately.
“I recognize that my peers and I face many obstacles, including and not narrowed down to bullying, racism and discrimination,” said Lily, a Grade 11 student at Innisfail High School. “I feel this is something that needs to be addressed more in our community because people are talking about it.
“I’ve witnessed people I care about be bullied for their sexuality, culture and disabilities and it makes me feel upset and disappointed. I feel that their needs to be more open conversation and that the issues need to be addressed.”
Before Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 24, Lily found many sponsors who agreed to help, including her mother Cindy.
The sponsors also included Boombox Union, Elemental Entertainment, Subliminal Propaganda Clothing Store, The Coffee Cottage, Geo. T. Ingham and Son Ltd. and Magical Elements. With this help 200 t-shirts were ordered.
Lily came up with a unique design, a dancing skeleton with the motto, ‘We’re Not Strangers, One Kind Human Kind’. She completed them a week before Pink Shirt Day.
To date, she has sold most of them at $20 each. After expenses, she managed to raise $1,394.
On March 18, she presented Wayne Pineau, the principal at Innisfail High School, with $1,394 for the school’s Family Wellness Program.
"We appreciate Lily’s efforts to support the anti-bullying cause, and her donation to help the Family School Wellness program at IHS," said Pineau. "What a tremendous effort and success."
While the Pink shirt initiative has raised awareness with many, the young teen is hoping to do much more for the community.
Through her collaboration with Dale Dunham and Shaun Steen, co-owners of The Coffee Cottage and a sponsor of her Pink Shirt Day initiative, she discovered there is a recognition in the community that the need is there for more programs and resources to be available to families and citizens.
“When Cindy and Lily approached us about having the shirts here at The Coffee Cottage, we wanted to help support it and help her sell them because we had already started with dialogue to reach out to the community about the fact there is more awareness around it, and that there is problem with bullying in Innisfail,” said Dunham, noting two staff members of his have been targets of bullying at school.
Dunham said he, his partner Shaun and others, have reached out to the town, McMan Central and local schools to get a permanent, full-time anti-bullying initiative put into the community.
“With Lily and talking to Cindy, we have decided to come together to try and push the issue forward, to try and get some more recognition, to try to get something in place,” said Dunham.
“We already knew bullying exists but with what Lily has done, and what we found out through Lily and Cindy from some of their situations, is that it just pushed it more.
“We are creating more conversation around it,” he concluded.