New Brunswick

School principal takes 7 million steps to help stop bullying and violence

After almost a year of walking about 15 kilometres everyday, Bruce Van Stone has reached his goal of covering a distance equal to a cross-country trek, in an effort to raise awareness against bullying and violence.

Bruce Van Stone travelled a distance equal to a trek across Canada for his Steps for Respect campaign

In Bruce Van Stone's time as a principal, he's seen the harm bullying can do. (Bruce Van Stone/Facebook)

It took almost a year, but Bruce Van Stone has managed to walk across Canada— sort of.

His walk didn't take him past the CN Tower or the Rocky Mountains, in fact, his walk rarely took him out of his own community. But, by walking 15 kilometres a day, every single day, he has travelled a distance equal to walking across the country.

"It feels incredible. I can't even put into words how difficult this challenge has been," said the McAdam High School principal. 

He started his "Steps for Respect" campaign to raise money for organizations which support people who've been bullied or assaulted, or affected by domestic violence, or hurt by others in any way. 

As a school principal and guidance councillor, it's not hard for him to mentally conjure up some of the difficult personal stories he's heard over the years. And he used those memories to keep him motivated every day. 

"I would get images of people that I know that have been hurt, and nobody in the world wants to see people getting hurt, so that kind of propelled me to just keep going," said Van Stone.

During the campaign, Van Stone received support from pro athletes, schools, sports teams, and people across the world.

Van Stone's campaign received national support, including from Toronto Raptors centre Jakob Poeltl. (Bruce Van Stone/Facebook)

Even so, there were days when walking 15 km seemed daunting. Some of those days came after he sprained his ankle early last fall, and his doctor told him to take a break …which he didn't do. 

"I was so far into it already, and I believe in it so strongly, that I wasn't going to stop and you know I taped it up and I just kept going," said Van Stone. 

"But that paled in comparison to the mental challenge which was to know that every single day when I woke up I would have to do at least roughly 20,000 steps or 15 kilometres." 

Local sports teams such as the St. Thomas women's soccer team joined in to support Van Stone and raise awareness for the campaign. (Bruce Van Stone/Facebook)

Van Stone doesn't know yet how much money his daily walk has raised, he'll find that out later when he connects with the local charities he collaborated with. 

This leg of Van Stone's walk may be over, but he says there are more miles to be travelled.  He hopes to develop "Steps for Respect" events in other communities, and already has plans for a fundraising walk in Fredericton. 

"We're all connected to try to make this world a better place," said Van Stone. 


Philip Drost is a reporter with the CBC.