Updated: Feb 26
Come Together with Kindness
Kindness & Anti-bullying Initiative
When we first decided to take action in 2017, Drew did the following videos.
Because peer pressure is so incredibly immense, so much so that it can sometimes cause children to go so far as to take their own lives, we wanted to start an initiative that encourages POSITIVE peer pressure! Kind is the new cool, right?!
We will do our best to help our small corner of the world come together with kindness, one friend at a time, one stranger at a time, one act of kindness at a time.
Why? Drew, now 13 years old, has experienced bullying since he was in Kindergarten. Yes, you read that right, Kindergarten! At the time, Mom worked for a nonprofit child advocacy agency. Mom explained to Drew why she felt some kids might, "be mean." This helped Drew gain some level of understanding to both sides of the issue. Drew has always had no problem taking a stand for others. But it's a bit more difficult sometimes to take a stand for yourself.
Drew's story is essentially every kid's story. You would be hard pressed to find someone, young or old, who has not been impacted by bullying in some way. Because it is such a common occurrence it isn't always addressed. Additionally, the word, "bully" and "bullying" often seem to cloud the issue. It's never OK to hit someone. It's never OK to harass someone. It's never OK to verbally abuse someone. But because we call these things, "bullying" common sense sometimes goes out the window. Regardless, kindness is truly the key and we want to help.
In the first grade, Drew was punched in the face when he stood up for another boy who was being physically threatened on the playground. An angry boy threatened to push Drew's friend down a steep hill into a drainage ditch. Drew stood up for his friend, got punched in the face and the rest is history! Drew has been teased relentlessly for having wild, curly hair. We even have a book about Drew and his wild, curly hair! Still today he is mistaken for a girl by both kids and adults. Kids take it a step further and taunt him because of the way he looks. This has been happening for as long as he can remember.
Drew has encountered bullying type behaviors more and more as he has grown older. He has been teased and taunted for things as crazy as wearing yellow! Yellow! At one time he was afraid to wear several colors, carry certain lunch boxes, wear certain jackets and would not wear shorts for the longest time. When I would encourage him to be himself and wear whatever he chose, he would reluctantly agree and then mumble, “They’re going to tease me for this…” This has been a topic of constant discussion for us. As a result, Drew got much better at processing feelings and reaching out to others when they hurt him. Now, when someone tells him he is weird he says, “Thank you!” This has become our mantra, so we made a shirt for it!
Once Drew started asking kids if he could help when they were unkind to him he would often find out a wealth of information. He would come home and tell me he found out someone's backstory. He finds out their backstory simply because he takes the time to ask. So many times this alone either stops or lessens the negative behaviors. We don't just want to recognize the child who is taking a stand, we also want to recognize that the child acting out needs help. This could possibly save that child's life and possibly even the lives of others. It was amazing how many times just giving these kids his time, attention and an ear was enough to make them both feel better. When he realized that mad is just sad's bodyguard he looked at things from a different perspective. If we do this even as adults, it's amazing how differently we'll see things.
Mistakes Become Lessons
It's true! Every mistake can beome a lesson. Certainly every mistake is a great learning opportunity for all of us. That's why you'll find the line, "mistakes become lessons that help us learn," in Drew's book Curly Q Drew and the Message Mistake! There is no such thing as a bad kid.
We realized along the way in this process that the random acts of kindness we've been doing since 2013 could also help. How? Because kindness is the key. Caring, inclusion, empathy, sympathy, coping, helping, these are all things that seem to go hand in hand with kindness. We want kids to think kind! Our Kindness Kits help kids do just that! The more kind you think, the more kind you'll be!
Drew, at nine years old, in 2017 when we first launched Come Together with Kindness.