Despite what many people proclaim, being teased and bullied is not just the way life goes. It is not just how girls or boys at a young age. Mean is taught. It is encouraged and it is wrong. Mean words hurt! We do not need to grow tough skin because someone has a bad attitude or is angry. Children and teens are capable of learning kindness towards their peers. This happens when someone makes a firm decision to encourage kindness. That is exactly what Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson did. They made a decision to take action and end bullying. Their focus is girl on girl bullying and their tool is the Kind Campaign.
What was your inspiration or what necessitated you to begin this adventure? Lauren Parsekian: Kind Campaign began with the idea for the documentary, Finding Kind. Ever since Middle School, I had wanted to create something that would give girls an outlet to speak out about girl-against-girl “crime.” Throughout 7th and 8th grade I was tortured by a group of girls. That experience left me in a very dark, very lonely place at the age of 12 and 13.
It was that struggle that put this issue on my heart and gave me my passion for it. At Pepperdine, both Molly and I were film majors. After I worked on a documentary, I realized that would be the perfect way to share this story with the world. Molly had a life changing experience with female bullying in High School and the two of us had worked on films together so it just felt like the most organic pairing to go in on this documentary together. It was through our experience in pre-production on Finding Kind that we were inspired to start our non-profit, Kind Campaign.
What steps did you take to create your program? Molly Thompson: We were seniors at PepperdineUniversity when we founded Kind Campaign. We were juggling classes and college social events with starting a non-profit and pre-production on a documentary film. Our minds were constantly spinning with new ideas for the film and the movement, so we did everything we could to keep up with our ideas.
Besides the heaps of paperwork that are needed to create a non-profit organization, one of the first things we did was create our website. We were working with an amazing designer, Nick Mason, who helped us create the branding and feel of Kind Campaign. Having the website up and running was incredibly important so that people had a place to go and get more information from the very beginning.
What obstacles were you forced to overcome? Lauren Parsekian: There have been many twists and turns throughout the Kind Campaign journeys. Raising the money to make any of this possible is always an obstacle, but lucky for us, people deeply believe in our mission and have made it possible for us to make these ideas and dreams into reality.
I think the biggest obstacle has just been to persevere when things get so overwhelming and tiring. The two of us manage and have created every aspect of the film, non-profit, business and movement. It can be very intense. When we tour with our assembly program, there are times where we are immersed in such crazy travel schedules– being on the road on and off from September-June. So just to remind ourselves of how hard we have worked and what this work has done for so many girls really keeps us going and moving forward.
What were the hardest problems to solve or actions to take? Molly Thompson: One of the hardest problems to solve was constantly figuring out different fundraising ideas and how to create a quality product on a budget.
What must you do to stay operational? Lauren Parsekian: Communicate. Molly and I communicate about everything so well and that is a huge reason why we have been able to maintain a friendship and working relationship. Of course there is always paperwork, emails, website maintenance and those sorts of things that keep KC moving.
Who, if anyone, helped you succeed? Molly Thompson: There have been so many people along the way that have helped us get to where we are today. From the people close to us who believed in us from the very beginning, to the generous support from donors, to the hundreds of thousands of girls and women who have shared their story and become a part of the movement.
Do you have any advice for readers who want to get involved or start a similar program? Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson: We love for people to get involved, that’s how we have grown into what we are today. A great way to get involved is to become a Kind Ambassador and work with your community to host a screening of Finding Kind. Other ways to get involved are by spreading the word, donating, and participating in the interactive features on the website.
Also, if you are passionate about something and want to start your own organization – do it! We encourage you to go after your dreams and accomplish your goals. Get your friends together and do it with them – you really can change the world with your friends.
What else do you want to share? Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson: In February 2009, while attending SeaverCollege, the two of us joined forces having both been affected by female bullying throughout our youth and decided to create change by giving females a platform to speak out about this universal experience. What began as an idea for a documentary about girl-against-girl bullying, ultimately became Kind Campaign, an internationally recognized movement, documentary, and school assembly program based on the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.”
Immediately upon graduating with our degrees in Film and Television Production, we drove across the country for two months to shoot our documentary and began to implement our school program into schools across the nation. The documentary, Finding Kind, was released in theaters in New York and Los Angeles, was accepted and awarded in over 20 film festivals, and has screened in thousands of schools across America and Canada. We have personally spoken in over 400 schools across North America and have completed four international anti-bullying school tours.
We are excited to continue our work of the last four years by creating what we call the KIND KIT. Set to release in Spring 2013, the KIND KIT is an anti-bullying curriculum which will include the Finding Kind documentary, an assembly DVD, Kind Campaign materials, and a copy of our Kind Club curriculum.
This interview is from a book that includes 15 other amazing people who are creating positive change. You can read the full book and buy a copy for your school at Bookemon.com. Buy the e-book for 99 Cents on Amazon.com.