For many of us, November has been exhausting. The contentiousness of the U.S. presidential election has kept many who work with children and youth on edge. Our children are like sponges and soak up the good and the bad of our collective behavior. Unfortunately, many have picked up on the not-so good.
But all hope is not lost.
We have opportunities to transform how people relate to one another in our communities and classrooms. I recently attended the International Bullying Prevention Association Conference in New Orleans. The theme was “Getting to the Bottom of It: Bullying Prevention through Empathy and Kindness.”
Kindness is powerful. Author and education expert Dr. Michelle Borba noted in her opening keynote that empathy is “we” not “me.” Instilling a we attitude in our children is vital. This can be done in and out of school through experiential activities.
Sunday, Nov. 13, gave us all an opportunity to turn me into we as the nation observed World Kindness Day, a 24-hour global campaign dedicated to paying it forward and focusing on the good. Empowered Flower Girl encourages you to engage – and engage youth – in activities that make a difference year round!
Make kindness go viral.
By Rasheda Kamaria
Empowered Flower Girl aims to inspire, entertain and empower youth, communities and families with our programs and online content. This month, National Bullying Prevention Month, I want to go a little further. I want to challenge everyone who reads this post to reach out to a young person and have an authentic conversation about . . . whatever. But what I challenge you to do more than anything, is listen.
Perhaps you’ve read recent headlines about the 14-year-old Florida boy, who after being “bullied his whole life,” committed suicide. Media outlets across the nation reported that the Greenwood Lakes Middle School student’s lifeless body was found in the school’s bathroom. He and his family had reportedly moved from New York to Florida because of bullying.
My heart aches and breaks. Not only for this young man but also for the countless others that we may know or have read about this year who have taken their lives to escape the agony of being harassed and taunted daily. Perhaps us as community leaders, educators, parents and everyday citizens can listen more to our children (and by our children I mean all children).
I believe it’s time we shift from bullying prevention to encouraging and instilling empathy, compassion and acceptance in schools, communities and families.
Rasheda Kamaria is the chief empowering officer and founder of Empowered Flower Girl LLC, a social enterprise that works with schools, communities and families seeking solutions to cyberbullying, drama, relational aggression and other social/communication challenges facing youth. A survivor of bullying, Kamaria was featured in the article “Being Bullied Changed My Life” in the May 2011 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and has spoken and written numerous articles on the subject.