YOKOHAMA -- A parent-teacher association (PTA) at an elementary school in this east Japan city has created anti-bullying themed virtual stickers for the Line free messaging app.
The stickers were made from illustrations by students at Yokohama Municipal Yamauchi Elementary School in the city's Aoba Ward, and encouraging words that children came up with are attached to the illustrations. Principal Seijun Sato said, "I hope people who use the stickers have their hearts warmed."
There are 178 kinds of stickers, in which phrases such as "Thank you," "You're doing great" and "I'm always by your side" are next to the school's mascot character "Keyaleaf," with a motif of Japanese zelkova leaves.
The stickers were made in cooperation with an illustrator who works under the name "dokukinoko," whose daughter attends the elementary school. She made a sticker of Keyaleaf with the PTA in 2019, and launched another project to create stickers based on pictures drawn by schoolchildren in 2020, receiving illustrations from some 100 students.
Dokukinoko won the top prize in the "yuru-chara" illustration category in January 2021 in a contest themed on preventing suicide due to bullying, held by a Tokyo-based incorporated nonprofit organization. She suggested creating Line stickers under the theme of bullying prevention during a discussion with officials at the school. In June, the group sought illustrations as well as heartwarming words for friends, and received submissions from 178 students.
The designer took about a month to complete the stickers by scanning each illustration on her computer. Dokukinoko was apparently bullied in her school days and explained her thought process for the project: "Bullying consisted of verbal and physical violence back then, but it's becoming difficult to see from the outside, such as on social media. I hope that awareness among people to use social media for heartwarming communication -- not bullying -- will take root."
The Line stickers have been sold by the school's PTA since September, and it says it will look into how to use the proceeds with the schoolchildren.
(Japanese original by Nao Ikeda, Yokohama Bureau)