Running loops for empowerment

Bonnie Belec
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Event in Bowring Park to deliver anti-bullying message

St. John’s city councillor and author Debbie Hanlon reads to Grade 2 students at Cowan Heights Elementary School on Canada Drive on the topic of bullying from her book “Gus & Isaac.” Hanlon is teaming up fitness group Mud Immortal to do an anti-bulling fundraiser in Bowring Park next Saturday. — Telegram file photo

Bullying is no laughing matter, but on Aug. 24 two groups hope to hear lots of laughter during an event to bring attention to intimidation and hopefully raise funds to spread the anti-bullying message.

Debbie Hanlon, creator of the “Miss Debbie I’m No Bully Show” and fitness group Mud Immortal have joined forces to bring Rainbow Run to Bowring Park in St. John’s.

Hanlon, a childrens author and St. John’s city councillor, said it’s their first collaborative effort and will include a day of family activities, vibrant colours and racing.

“It’s not really a race. You can run, walk, do cartwheels, whatever you want, but you have to register,” said Hanlon, who has been bringing her Miss Debbie show to  schools for several years spreading the anti-bullying message.

“It’s five kilometres, twice around the park, and for every kilometre you complete you get different colour powder thrown over you,” she said.

Hanlon said Mud Immortal is interested in raising funds for groups that focus on bringing awareness to provincial issues. She said with the money going to the anti-bullying campaign she will be able to bring her show to children throughout Newfoundland as well as to Labrador.

She said she’ll continue to volunteer her time and is looking forward to getting back in the schools.

“We’ve got more than 400 registered, and more than 1,000 saying they’re coming. There’s no fee. It’s whatever you want to donate,” she said.

The run gets underway at 10 a.m.

Hanlon said the registration costs will go directly to the campaign and costs associated with setting up the Rainbow Run will be covered by Mud Immortal, Hanlon and their sponsors.

“We just really want to encourage people to come out to bring awareness to bullying. It’s not just something that happens in school. It happens in the workplace, at home, and the more that come together to show we are not bullies the better it is.

“We’re even encouraging the bullies to come out so they can understand they don’t have to be,” said Hanlon.

 After the run is done, she said, they join with the Coalition against Violence at 2 p.m. for a celebration with entertainment, music and food.

A national survey by Ipsos Reid commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and Invesco Canada Ltd., in February found that 72 per cent of bullied Canadians said they were teased in a manner designed to humiliate; 71 per cent experienced verbal abuse and taunting; 43 per cent were slapped, shoved, hit or beaten; and five per cent experienced online ridicule and humiliation.

According to the website Stop a Bully (stopabully.ca), a Canadian non-profit organization, bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.

Hanlon is well aware of the statistics and has been trying to make a difference with her show by using her book, “The Adventures of Gus and Isaac: Backyard Bullies,” a ukulele and several other props, to empower children to recognize bullying and to have the confidence to stop it.  

Hanlon has taken her show on the road to schools from St. John’s as far as Twillingate. She has reached thousands of students locally and has even read her book and presented her show to students in Korea, China and Japan.

Miss Debbie’s hope is to one day reach all of the province’s children one school at a time.

Go to rainbowrun.mudimmortal.com for more information.

Organizations: Ipsos Reid, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Canada and Invesco Canada

Geographic location: Bowring Park, Newfoundland, Twillingate Korea China

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  • Jonathan B - Mud Immortal Founder
    August 19, 2013 - 09:49

    Awesome coverage, thanks Bonnie & The Telegram!! Hope to see everyone out supporting a fantastic cause & getting colorful! J