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Toronto Argonauts discuss bullying at Ellwood Memorial Public School

March 14, 2019   ·   0 Comments


The Toronto Argonauts brought their Huddle Up bullying prevention program to Ellwood Memorial Public School on Tuesday, March 5.

Offensive Lineman Tyler Holmes discussed his experience as an adolescent growing up in Nepean, just outside Ottawa.

“One thing that was really different about me, was that when I was a kid I was diagnosed with a condition where I had a little hole in my heart,” said Holmes to the packed audience in the institution’s gymnasium. “When I was about five or five years old, my parents told me I would have to go to the hospital and have a surgery and the doctors were going to fix me. When I was five, I went in, had open heart surgery, they sewed up the whole in my heart and they sent me back home.”

Holmes had to sit out for almost a year to recover, unable to play around with his friends at recess. He said he couldn’t do anything that he would have liked to do.

“I remember when it was recess time and all my friends we’re going out to play on the playgrounds, I had to sit inside with the teachers,” said Holmes. “Finally, I went to the doctors for a check-up, got the green light, I was good to go finally and I was able to go out for recess and play and have fun.”

He would soon realize the friends he had seemed to have moved on without him, forgetting about him.

He said he would ask to play in their game but they told him to play with other people.

“I was hurt, obviously, and I remember walking around the playground from group to group, with different kids, just trying to find someone to join along. Everybody was telling me to go find someone to play with.”

A fellow student told him to try out for the basketball team, because he was tall. He tried out, made the team, and felt like he was part of a group. He stayed in touch with the good group of friends throughout high school for many years.

Through the program, Toronto Argos’ players, cheerleaders and program staff work together to make schools safe and inclusive. The program messages are tailored to students that have been identified to be transition stages of elementary school and high school, 

Holmes, reflecting on a time in high school, would then remember thinking back to his time on the playground where all the children were pushing him aside, when a rumor was spread about a friend. Nobody was talking to his friend because of the lie.

“I made the decision to say hi to him in the hallways. I would sit down to eat lunch with him, I’ll walk with him. After a couple of weeks, the whole thing blew over, everybody forgot about the rumor, he was back with our group of friends and it was like it never happened.

He said that even though his friend was still hurt even though people spread rumors about him anymore. 

“A couple of years later, he came up to me and told me how much it meant to him that I stood by him, because he was going through some really hard stuff at home as well,” said Holmes

The program launched in 2001. It has impacted over 600,000 students ages 8-18, empowering them to make a difference speaking up when faced with bullying, according to a news release.



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