There is a Scottsdale-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on educating the next generation of the virtues and necessity of treating all people --- all creeds, colors and religious beliefs --- with empathy and compassion.
Founded on the principles of equality, the United States of America is home to many different perspectives and viewpoints, and The Be Kind People Project seeks to educate children how to treat one another with dignity and respect.
For Marcia Meyer, founder and CEO of The Be Kind People Project, the education surrounding compassion oftentimes ushers in the demeanor needed for community leaders to rise among one’s peers.
“The Be Kind People Project delivers youth-relevant learning opportunities that initiate positive change in the school learning environment and inspire humanity, academic achievement, and healthy living so our student generation will grow into respectful and caring citizens and responsible leaders,” she said of what the project is focused on achieving.
What started as a one-off community event struck a chord with both Ms. Meyer and those who helped volunteer at the 2012 event that she now recalls as the beginning of the kindness movement.
“The Be Kind People Project started in 2012 as a rather unexpected off-shoot of a volunteer community event that extended gestures of kindness and The Be Kind Pledge to nearly 10,000 teachers and their students,” she pointed out of the education-based approach.
“Teachers wanted a way to help kids understand what to do instead of just what not to do as part of their social and emotional learning and asked for more. We knew that what we had to say was important…but not nearly as important as what kids would hear.”
Ms. Meyer explains there are 10 attributes of The Be Kind Pledge --- the foundation for the education program. They are:
In the beginning, Ms. Meyer explains, the organization started teaching the skills of The Be Kind Pledge, academics, and healthy habits through hip-hop dance, upbeat music, and spoken-word poetry.
To date, The Be Kind People Project here has touched more than 500,000 students on playgrounds and classrooms throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area. But kindness is much more than being nice or polite, Ms. Meyers explains.
“Being kind involves empathy for another person, thinking about how to do or express something that would be pleasing to that person, and the action to actually do something --- and all without expecting anything in return,” she noted.
“Kindness involves important human skills, and practicing it can, in fact, initiate positive change both for and in others. There’s nothing random about kindness, although it may feel that way to the recipient. Kindness is intentional and is designed for the betterment of another.”
Ms. Meyer contends the foundational belief of kindness --- and what the effects of those actions create --- are the building blocks of modern society.
“Being kind goes to the core of how people of all ages honor, communicate with, respect, and treat one another,” she said. “We believe that in a multi-cultural society, trust, empathy, tolerance, respect, and kindness are the cornerstones of peace, order, and civility.”
The Be Kind People Project is a mobile education endeavor, according to Ms. Meyer.
“The primary role of The Be Kind People Project is to help provide strong social and emotional education for students, teachers, and schools,” she said of bringing the education to students. “We work on important youth social issues: academic achievement, bullying, cyberbullying, youth fitness and nutrition, and after school enrichment and safety. Communities and families are better when the youth are building accountability, respect, and strong relationship skills.”
With statewide school closures, Ms. Meyers explains, May is deemed “Make a Difference May” where local residents are encouraged to be thoughtful of one another.
“As part of that effort, we are completing a student community service project by delivering Be Kind care packs and over 20,000 items to families and individuals experiencing homelessness,” she said. “‘Walking our talk’ is important in everything we do. Much community involvement is done through motivating student community service projects throughout the year to honor those in the infrastructure of the community.”
--- Marcia Meyer
This current grant year, Fiesta Bowl Charities provided The Be Kind People Project a $50,000 grant, Ms. Meyer says, providing vital resources for ongoing efforts.
“Every bit of support from Fiesta Bowl Charities has been used to provide programs and services that support youth, encourage sports and healthy lifestyle habits, and provide well-rounded academic, character, and social and emotional learning,” she said.
“Fiesta Bowl Charities has provided resources that have helped us have over 500,000 student contacts in Arizona over the years and also provide much-needed support and assistance for Arizona’s teachers.”
Support from Fiesta Bowl Charities has allowed The Be Kind People Project to steadily grow into a force for good reaching all corners of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Ms. Meyers explains.
“Fiesta Bowl Charities has helped The Be Kind People Project develop an exciting, innovative, and massive mobile learning experience that was planned to reach students throughout Arizona, beginning in the spring of 2020,” she explained pointing out changes due to the ongoing public health crisis. “That project was temporarily converted into daily virtual learning for students and families throughout the summer and to give direct assistance to those in need.”
Kristina Chumpol, community relations director at Fiesta Bowl Charities, says The Be Kind People Project offers children at a young age exposure to ways to cope with life’s ups and downs.
“We all know that when you learn something as a child it is much more likely to become a habit as an adult,” she said.
“The reality is, as kids grow up they definitely experience their fair share of conflict. If they are able to take an empathetic approach to resolve the disagreement on the basketball court or the frustration between a friendship, then we can hope that will be the same approach they will take with more difficult conflicts as they grow into adulthood.”
Ms. Chumpol says kindness and leadership oftentimes translate into synonymous traits.
“Children who participate in efforts with The Be Kind People Project learn how to effectively understand, link, and apply social, emotional, academic, civic, nutrition, physical, wellness, leadership, and character education through fun and engaging activities,” she said.
“There is nothing that can lift your spirits quicker than simple kindness in a human. The smile from the stranger that walks by, the person in front of you at the coffee shop that buys your coffee, someone offering to help pick up all of the papers you dropped --- that is the good stuff.”
The impact of empathetic compassion toward one another is a universal language that helps shape the healthy mental habits of a young person, Ms. Chumpol says.
“Fiesta Bowl Charities supported The Be Kind People Project in support of the education, youth development and sports opportunities that they provide to the Arizona community,” she said.
“This year’s grant helped BKPP to create a mobile classroom allowing the Be Kind crew to hold assemblies, sports activities, offer learning activities and enhance follow-up visits. The Be Kind People Project has been an incredible Fiesta Bowl partner for many years. They have such a passion for their mission and we have enjoyed having them participate and enhance many of our events over the years.”
Go to thebekindpeopleproject.org.