The Kindness Campaign

The Problem

Bullying in the public school community, currently focusing at the secondary school level.

Plan of Action

I've currently written a proposal to the principal, and am awaiting an answer on whether I can move forward with this. As the student president of the THS Book Club and a member for Lungs for Jenny, I organized a coalition between the two clubs to participate in a school-wide Kindness Campaign. So far, we’ve already been approved to distribute slips of paper with a local girl’s picture (late former student) and the dates of her life, and in honor of her memory, the Lungs for Jenny club came up with the idea of writing an inspirational kindness quote that will be delivered to every student in a homeroom at our school. I put together the graphics and am excited about them – and very much hoping they won’t end up all over the hallway floors, but instead on bedroom pin-boards at home or stuck in everyone’s homework folders as a reminder that we all matter. That wasn’t my idea, but the rest is and I’m super excited about it! (And crossing my fingers that it will be approved) I’ve requested to have an extended SSP (student success period, basically a homeroom occasionally extended for goal-reaching and teambuilding) period later in the month, during which I’ll ask teachers to share an anti-bullying video promoting kindness and supporting victims struggling with bullying – presently, I’m petitioning to use “To This Day” by Shane To This Day by Shane Koyczan (the link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY).I would provide something for the teachers to read beforehand, as well as a link to the video for use with projectors and aver keys to show the entire class. I’ll also be writing and distributing a reflection worksheet for students. Teachers would be encouraged (but certainly not required - I don't want them to have to worry about any preparations outside of the typical school day status quo or add any burden in addition to planning for their already time-consuming daily responsibilities) to host a discussion about the video, general behaviors, and how the individual can take it upon themselves to improve the kindness and quality of the school environment. It would also be a time to announce the book club’s book of the month – 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which I recommended originally before I knew about the campaign because I was hoping some students would actually read it and it would create some awareness that would possibly combat the negativity in the atmosphere. In addition, I would like to provide the students with the opportunity to sign an optional kindness pledge. When they return the pledge papers to SSP teachers, my assistant vice president of the Book Club (slash best friend) and I will be collecting those slips from all the homerooms. When they are all received, the names of participating students would be printed a list to be hung on the school hallway pin boards, just like the lists for the honor roll, to show that committing to kindness is incredibly admirable and honorable – a recognizable achievement worthy of positive attention, just like the students who commit to doing well in academics. Also, I would like to do a movie showing of a documentary I’ve been watching in English class titled “Bully” after school. The librarian and Book Club advisor said we actually have the equipment to show this film in the library, or said we could fill out a facilities request form for our auditorium - the Little Theater once the fantastic school play has finished playing. This movie is designed for schools and created by the Bully Project. To tie in with the film, I’m going to a small conclusion speech to motivate viewers in attendance to tie it into the book of the month, and then direct them to sign the Bully Project pledge (not the same as the THS kindness campaign one) online, where they win an honorary “Upstander” badge that I’ve already received and find very uplifting. I hope to also include a contest that would last for two weeks afterwards. It encourages peers to continuously think about the aim of the campaign, rather than just fleeting inspiration to be nice for a day, and I think it would help to keep the purpose of the campaign in the public consciousness for at least a little while. The context would completely tie-in to the video and do something else too: get students involved. I would love to include as many “crowds” around the school with different interests, and the contest would promote both anti-bullying and the arts. The students would be challenged to create a piece of art inspired by the message of anti-bullying and pro-positivity – whether it be a piece of creative or nonfiction (even essay) writing, poetry, painting, drawing, sculpture, a CD of music, a video, or a skit. I planned to inform the art teachers because they’ve always been so wonderful about letting students with special artistic interest know about opportunities to further their skills – as well as the Video Production teachers and the English teachers I know (as well as the Creative Writing teacher) so that they can inform students pursuing one of these interests of an opportunity to benefit the THS community and explore their interests. For the prize, should this be approved, I can’t exactly foresee what would be available. However, I have done a lot of research and walked around downtown visiting shops, and I have already written personalized letters I’m prepared to send to The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, The Art’s Desire Shop, the CT Academy for the Arts, and Torrington’s Parks and Recreation Department politely requesting donations of tickets, gift cards, or awards and explaining why it would benefit their business or institution. Should the winner be a piece of writing, I plan to personally offer assistance in submitting the piece to TeenInk Magazine, which I’ve previously been published in and can help he or she achieve publication, and if it is okay, a signed copy of my novel, Something of a Kind by Miranda Wheeler, in addition to whatever else is won, especially because it deals with bullying and abuse awareness. I have also bought copies of 642 Things To Draw and Finish This Book, which are creative workbooks that I have used and adored in the past and will promote arts and culture at Torrington High for whoever has one them. I hope that these projects will get students invested in the anti-bullying cause, inspire their friends, and maybe even guide my peers to create something that will inspire and emotionally connect with the rest of the school. It is exciting because I’ve also tried to get PeaceJam club involved by encouraging their members to recreate some of the peace-promoting posters I’m told they posted last year, and lots of students have shown interest in my early plans, offering their own ideas in such a great and impressive forum thus far. I convinced a few of my teachers to show the video and excitably, several students have had some really eye-opening experiences with it and expressed a very emotional and interesting response. Many students have also expressed some positive emotional responses to the posters I put up that say “THINK before you speak” with a colorful acronym (Is it Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?) and encourages students to take a reminder (each of the words in the acronym is parallel to a series of strips saying each of the words). I’ve seen several kids take them, so I’m hoping it’s having a positive, if small, impact.

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