Carol Todd to speak at anti-bullying event in Fraser Valley

Amanda Todd’s mother wants parents to reconsider the amount of screen time their families have

Carol Todd knows all too well the pain that can come from childhood bullying, and now she’s coming to town with a call to action for Chilliwack parents.

In 2012, after years of cyberbullying, Todd’s daughter, Amanda, committed suicide. And while many parents could have been destroyed by the weight of their grief, Todd used hers to create a lasting legacy in Amanda’s name that strives to end bullying in all its forms.

READ MORE: Legacy of Amanda Todd lives on through B.C. foundation

Now her efforts are bringing her into the heart of the Fraser Valley to offer a call to action for local parents about the amount of screen time the entire family is engaging in.

“The average teenager spends nine hours a day online,” said Todd during a telephone interview. “They have broken sleep, they’re gaming, they’re texting.”

But kids aren’t picking this behaviour on their own, says Todd, they’re often learning it from parents or other family members.

“A TIME online (article) said 54 per cent of kids in the USA feel they spend too much time online … and parents themselves also feel they spend too much time on devices. It’s hypocritical to ask our children to stop while continuing to use (these devices) ourselves,” Todd continued.

“Parents have (helped to) create this whole problem. (There are) young kids are going into school who are lacking fine motor skills (because) they’re not being given the LEGO, the beads, or Play-Doh.”

With an eye on the past, Todd isn’t suggesting we forego visual entertainment, but instead turning it into an experience for the entire family.

“Let’s bring back the DVDs,” she said. “I remember renting movies with my kids. That was time together, it was conversation face to face. Even going to the library and choosing books (can be a memorable experience).”

That said, Todd recognizes the power of technology and how embedded it is in our society, which is part of the message she has for Chilliwack’s moms and dads.

“It’s not always about teaching the kids because they’re too young,” said Todd. “It’s about teaching the parents.”

READ MORE: Melding martial arts and anti-bullying

And Brigette and Fred MacKenzie agree, which is why they’re hosting the anti-bullying event that Todd will be speaking at.

Open to the entire community, and free of charge, the event takes place on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m., at the University of Fraser Valley’s Gathering Place in Chilliwack’s Canada Education Park.

Moved by the plight of children who are bullied either in person or online, the MacKenzies have been working for years to create not only anti-bullying momentum in the area, but a conversation around the issue as a whole.

“I remember being so affected by Amanda Todd’s story,” said Brigette MacKenzie, who co-owns the Chilliwack Chito-Ryu karate school with her husband, Fred. “So I reached out.”

That was in 2015, and now, three years later, Todd and the MacKenzies are still diligently working at eliminating bullying and cyberbulling in Chilliwack.

“(And) now we have a long relationship with Carol Todd—we’re business friends,” explained MacKenzie from inside the Chito-Ryu dojo.

READ MORE: B.C. parents to get online assistance on cyberbullying

“We really (appreciate) her call to action now,” continued MacKenzie. “We need to get kids off screens, more active, involved with their communities, which will help their personal development.”

That’s why, in addition to Carol Todd, Chris Cassamassa will also be attending the event.

Cassamassa, who earned is first degree black belt at 10, is legendary among some martial arts circles. Working his way into Hollywood, he was Batman’s stunt double in 1997’s Batman & Robin, and now he’s using his skills to help combat bullying with his KICKNFIT KIDS program, of which the MacKenzies are licensed instructors.

Sensei Fred MacKenzie demonstrates respect for one’s self and others while teaching young children Chito-Ryu, a form of karate. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

Although it’s a health- and fitness-based program, KICKNFIT KIDS also strives to arm kids with “bully busting self-defense moves.”

“Very often we have students who are either bullied or bullies themselves,” said Sensei Fred MacKenzie, who’s reached the level of Shihan, or Master Teacher.

But after immersing themselves in Martial arts training, the kids change, said Sensei MacKenzie.

“Having that knowledge gives them control of their environments, teaches them how to defend themselves against bullies, and helps develop an air of self-confidence.

“And when they have that self-confidence, they don’t seem to be as bothered by bullies … (and former) bullies are molded into different (people),” added Sensei MacKenzie.

READ MORE: Teach online safety in school, experts say

“Sometimes I think we’ve done the word (“bullying”) to death,” said Todd.

“You can have all the anti-bullying conferences you want, but (we) really need to talk about mind and heart and how you should interact with people online and offline.

“It’s all about the behaviours of the person,” she concluded. But “it’s not always about teaching the kids because they’re too young. It’s about teaching the parents, (which) takes time, but we definitely have to do it.”

For more information about Sept. 8’s anti-bullying event, please visit ChilliwackChitoRyu.com.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chilliwack woman on Team B.C. staff for 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship

Tana Mussell will serve as team trainer as Team B.C. defends the gold it won at the 2018 NAHC.

Glass recycling is back in the ‘Wack this spring

Council voted to approve purchase of 30,000 grey tubs for glass recycling in Chilliwack

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Jan. 14 to 20

Agassiz Community Gardens hoping to find new home at old McCaffrey school

The society has been looking for a new location since its previous gardens were sold in October

Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld says he’s the victim of workplace discrimination

Left out of liaison duties in the district, Barry Neufeld says he’ll be bringing legal action against the school board

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit

Property across from King Traditional Elementary cannot operate manure facility without permit

Vancouver city council endorses free transit for youth

Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a support letter to TransLink

Most Read