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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spending $500K on policing transition during pandemic a ‘waste,’ Surrey council hears

City council on a five-to-four vote authorized $500K for Surrey Police Department IT upgrades

Out On Patrol non-profit launched by LGBTQ2S+ law enforcement members in B.C.

Surrey-based RCMP officer among board members of new organization

Surrey restaurants to benefit from city’s patio plan

Pilot program will permit the use of temporary outdoor areas. It’s meant to be enacted fast, for the summer months

Humbled by hit song ‘Pillow Talkin,’ Surrey musician aims to build on humanitarian work

‘People are still trying to figure out who the heck I am,’ Tyler Joe Miller says

White Rock set to reopen promenade, increase waterfront parking

Existing fencing to be left in place in case restrictions need to be reimposed

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read