Gareth Thomas, the 100-times capped former Wales skipper, has announced his support for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week, which takes place on 17-21 November.
Gareth, who leads theBalls to Bullyingcampaign which launched earlier this year, visits schools all over the country to work with pupils on building resilience and boosting self-confidence.
Gareth has recently spoken of how his own schools days were blighted by bullying: “I was picked on by my rugby teammates. When we went swimming, they would smack me with their wet towels. I got spat on, too. It was degrading, but I didn’t want to tell anyone because these were my rugby mates and I wanted to be in the team.
“I’m not sure why it happened, I wasn’t small or weak. I think it was because I didn’t stand up for myself. It started with a little thing – I was probably singled out because my rugby boots weren’t the best – and then it built. Going to school eventually became a nightmare.”
Gareth said: “I’m so thrilled to be playing a part in Anti-Bullying Week, working alongside brilliant organisations which, like Balls to Bullying, are determined to stop bullying for all.”
Lauren Seager-Smith, National Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said: “Ultimately, bullying is a behaviour choice, one which parents, carers, teachers and the community must work together to change at grass roots level; educating that bullying in any form is wrong and that any environment that encourages bullying, or shows indifference to prejudice and discrimination, is unacceptable.Gareth is a wonderful advocate for anti-bullying work so we’re delighted to see his involvement in Anti-Bullying Week to help all children and young people to take the lead on changing behaviour and to stop bullying for all.’
Rob Grays, managing director of Prospero Teaching, the company behind Balls to Bullying, commented: “Balls to Bullying is having a real impact as Gareth travels round the country visiting schools and working with hundreds of children. When a sports legend stands up and says he’s been bullied, children and young people really listen. We’re delighted that Gareth will be a part of Anti-Bullying Week, which does so much to keep the scourge of bullying high on the national agenda.”