Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Inspirational notes take over city

Teens respond to bullies by posting positive messages

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Mikayla Carter, Marley St. Cyr and Mackenzie Carter responded to other people's negative actions by leaving about 200 inspirational notes around downtown and The Forks on Sunday.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Mikayla Carter, Marley St. Cyr and Mackenzie Carter responded to other people's negative actions by leaving about 200 inspirational notes around downtown and The Forks on Sunday. Photo Store

Mackenzie Carter wiped a tear from her cheek when she remembered the bullies on social media sites like Facebook.

"I could never really trust anybody," said the 13-year-old, keeping a smile on her face.

But Mackenzie decided to take technology into her own hands when older sister Mikayla, and friend Marley St. Cyr suggested posting inspirational quotes in public areas across Winnipeg.

The girls came up with the idea through the Team Inspire Project, an online global movement designated to bring compassion to young people with the help of social media. The project was created by the girls' favourite band Emblem3, who are opening for Selena Gomez at the MTS Centre tonight. Similar "takeovers" have happened in cities all across North America this year.

"If someone's having a bad day or feeling down, it makes that person's day better," said Mackenzie.

On the eve of the Winnipeg takeover, the trio personally wrote more than 200 hundred inspirational messages. Written in marker, some quotes read: "Be the change you want to see in the world," "You're beautiful," and "In a gentle way you can shake the world."

The girls posted the messages on benches, light posts and bus stops downtown and at The Forks.

"We chose it because that's where a lot of people work, and that's where a lot of people are," said Mikayla Carter, 15. "A lot of people take the bus too, so they're probably walking around a lot."

The three friends also made a YouTube video documenting their posting adventure downtown, hoping the trend will continue in other cities. The video has more than 300 views so far.

"I put one on a bench and these two ladies saw it afterwards," said Marley St. Cyr, 15. "It made them smile and that made me happy."

For their moms, the messages brought more than just a smile.

"It's hard being a teenager nowadays. I'm proud of what they're doing," said Nicole Carter. "They (teenagers) go through their stuff at that age. It's nice to see that they're (the girls) ahead of it."

Mikayla and Marley have also been victims of cyber-bullying on both Twitter, Facebook and through text messaging.

"When (bullies) post it, it goes viral-anything, and it's hard," said Nicole Carter. "It warms our heart that they're rising above stuff like that."

Two 18-year-old men face child pornography charges in the case involving 17-year-old Nova Scotian Rehtaeh Parson, who was cyber-bullied and eventually took her own life. Her parents say she was sexually assaulted when she was 15 and that Rehtaeh was driven to her decision by a digital photo of the incident that was distributed on social media.

"Someone could be having a really bad day, and maybe thinking suicide," said Nicole Carter. "All it takes is a little message on a card."

elizabeth.fraser@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2013 B1

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