Anthony McLean connects with the crowd of HJ Cody students during his presentation on Oct. 24. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Anthony McLean connects with the crowd of HJ Cody students during his presentation on Oct. 24. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake students urged to put positivity first

Anthony McLean spoke to students about bullying at Ecole HJ Cody High School on Oct. 24

Students at Ecole H.J. Cody School learned to use positivity to drown out negativity.

The Interact Club, with the help of the Sylvan Lake Rotary Club, brought in speaker Anthony McLean on Oct. 24.

McLean approached the heavy topic of bullying lightheartedly with jokes, raps and videos.

“Imagine you were to kick me in the stomach… I’m bent over, I am in pain and then you say ‘yeah, but I’m just kidding’ … my stomach still hurts. That did not help me at all,” said McLean during his presentation.

“It’s the same thing when you make fun of someone’s family, you make fun of the fact their family doesn’t have a lot of money, you make fun of their birthmark or their weight and afterwards you think it’s OK because you said ‘just kidding’,” compared McLean. “It’s not OK, don’t go there in the first place.”

McLean then opened up about a time when he was the new kid in grade school and he was made fun of by one of his classmates.

He explained the fact no one stood up for him and just stood around and laughed along was worse then the name-calling itself.

He told the students when you stand there you are part of the problem.

As a bystander, he says, you can speak up against the bully, show your support for the victim and report it to a teacher if it’s really bad.

McLean said no matter what we do, we will never get rid of all of the mean individuals.

“There’s always going to be a Thanos even if you get rid of Thanos,” he said referencing the popular Marvel movies. “There’s always going to be someone who’s just a jerk, I know that, I’m not worried about that.”

The Aurora, Ont. native then spoke about a student he met after a presentation who told him she was being made fun of because of her stutter. This sparked McLean to realize we all have our own form of “stutter.”

His was acne, which was something his “friends” used to make fun of him.

“Everyone has a stutter… maybe it’s our weight, maybe it’s our height, maybe we wish we were better at a sport, maybe we come from an embarrassing family, maybe we wish we had more money…” explained McLean, adding everyone has something they are insecure about.

Although, he says, the one good thing about having a “stutter” is being able to find out who your real friends are.

“Your real friends would never embarrass you… your real friends would never let you feel bad about your insecurities.”

Another topic McLean touched on was the concept of a digital footprint.

He warned the students through a gripping story to watch what they post online as it could come back to haunt them in future opportunities as they apply for jobs and post-secondary school.

McLean advised to “think before you click” on Youtube comments, Instagram and Snapchat even if your accounts aren’t linked to your real name.

He wrapped up his presentation by sharing his dream of making school a place where everyone can show up and not be made fun of or embarrassed.

“Let’s make this school a place where everyone belongs,” closed McLean.