"You can't shake hands with a closed fist."
It was a quote uttered by former Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi during peace talks in the 1970s and was one of the first things that popped into the head of Guildford Park Secondary student Bea Venzon when it came time to create a design for anti-bullying.
With that in mind, the Grade 12 student created an image of two hands forming a heart shape. This past week, that image was selected out of 400 to be the official T-shirt design for this year's Anti-Bullying day in Surrey on Feb. 27, and that design will go on to be worn by more than 10,000 people.
For the 17-year-old Venzon, the selection was unexpected, to say the least.
"I was quite surprised because it was very last-minute (and) I only started working on it the night before the deadline," she said, laughing. "I found it quite interesting because fists are a symbol for traditional schoolyard bullying, and the fact that you can use the same appendage for spreading peace, acceptance and friendship."
However, taking part in socially-driven activities isn't anything new for the Surrey youth, as Venzon was part of a group of students that won first place in the City of Surrey's anti-bullying film contest last spring.
"My friends and I, we're all part of the Gay-Straight Alliance in my school and we've been doing these kinds of activities since 2009," she said.
When asked why she got involved with the anti-bullying movement, Venzon said the issue was one that struck her as being something that could be changed, with a little effort.
"It's just that bullying is one small thing that could have lifelong repercussions for people so preventing it would have such an impact on someone's life," she said. "Nobody deserves to get bullied for their race, sexual orientation, financial status, disability, gender, religion, perceived subculture or for anything at all."
Following her final year in high school, Venzon hopes to pursue sciences at postsecondary, but said she's still interested in continuing to be active in social advocacy.
"I'm going into the sciences but things like art and film are a hobby to me and people in the group and that's how we choose to present our ideas," she said. "I'm still looking forward to doing more of that."