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Rallying . . . Youth United Against Bullying leaders (from left) Anthony Moffat, Chloe Harper and Laetitia Manson (both 15) have organised an anti-bullying rally on May 4. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Timaru residents are invited to take a stand against bullying at an event next month.

The Youth United Against Bullying group, formed by the youth group of Timaru’s Life Church, has organised a rally on May 4 at Caroline Bay.

Co-organiser Chloe Harper (15) said the idea came about after she talked to youth leader Anthony Moffat about how she had dealt with bullying at an old school.

Mr Moffat said after Chloe had told him what she had gone through, he started brainstorming.

Chloe, her friend Laetitia Manson (15) and Mr Moffat then came up with the idea of the youth-led rally, which will be held on the United Nations Anti-Bullying Day.

Chloe said she hoped speaking out about bullying would encourage other young people to do the same – whether that was telling someone about the bullying they were enduring or speaking up in support of people who were being bullied.

Mr Moffat said it was also important for people of all ages to speak out against bullying, as it it did not only occur in schools but also workplaces, social groups, online and other settings.

He hoped it would encourage people to seek help.

“That’s the key message – that it’s OK to reach out.”

Fellow organiser Laetitia Manson, who also attends Life Church’s youth group, said while she had not been bullied herself she had seen the effects on friends and wanted to help change things.

“[It is] quite sad to see the impact.”

Chloe hoped there would be a good turnout to the May 4 event so people could see that the community did care about bullying.

“It might help others to step up.”

The rally would start at the Caroline Bay Soundshell at 10.30am, featuring guest speakers, a karakia and a kapa haka performance.

Those taking part in the march would leave the Soundshell at 11am, marching through Timaru’s CBD down Stafford St, before returning to the Soundshell at noon.

Back at the Soundshell, there would be speakers – including Timaru District Council representative Steve Wills and Maddie Grant, from nationwide youth-led anti-bullying organisation Sticks and Stones – and music from a DJ.

Laetitia said it had been “pretty cool” to see the council and a variety of organisations jumping on board with the event, particularly Silver Fern Farms.

She was looking forward to the “mean-as” barbecue, which would be run by Silver Fern Farms staff, who had also donated the food.

The Youth United Against Bullying team would also have T-shirts available on the day for $10, she said.