That's what the Humanity Project is all about. This website shows you how we help kids to help kids -- and gives you free materials and other tools to join our efforts.
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To create innovative arts-based programs that help youth solve pressing social problems through collaborative efforts that emphasize the value of each individual.
What it means:
We're adults helping kids to help kids. We bring together young people to help their peers (and sometimes parents) solve tough problems such as bullying, teen driver safety and teenage social isolation -- issues where we can offer our experience and expertise. Together we create and implement all-original programs that reduce these problems while strengthening respect for the individual and promoting self-value. We call our unique approach "shared value."
Just in case there’s any confusion about this website … because, well, I can understand how it could happen. So let me put together a short primer for you. You might come to our website and read our trademarked slogan: “Helping kids to help kids!” And our mission statement: “To create innovative arts-based programs that help youth solve pressing social problems through collaborative efforts that emphasize the value of each individual.” And then, perhaps, you may read a few blogs, maybe listen to a podcast or sift through some of our fables — and you could be forgiven for wondering, “I thought this was for kids!”
Our programs reach thousands of kids each year!
You’re right. The Humanity Project is mainly intended to help kids. And so a brief explanation is in order: As the blurb below our mission statement mentions, we’re adults helping kids to help kids. And sometimes helping kids to help parents as well. But this website is for you, the adult reader. If you look through our many pages on this site, you’ll quickly get the idea. We’re providing you with information about programs that we’ve created with the help of kids, for kids. Adults such as you can aid our efforts to reach more children with those programs. We’re also posting much info about those programs and related issues, including our advice for parents on how to handle bullying. (You’ll find that page by clicking here.) Or take another example such as our podcasts, where you will hear intelligent discussions that can help you to bring our work to the kids who need it. Or our PeacePage or those fables I mentioned — we’re very proud of these works and all the other original Humanity Project materials on this website. Each of them is something you may want to share with the kids in your life in some way or other, either now or when they’re a little older. We think those materials can be great ways to teach … and to inspire.
So think of this website as a library full of ways to help kids deal with some tough issues, including bullying, distracted driving and social isolation — areas where our experience and expertise allow us to make a meaningful contribution. This site is also a gateway to our social media pages and our other websites, which were created for kids, by kids. You can learn more about those sites and connect with them through our Just4kids page, which is at this link. Yes, indeed. “Helping kids to help kids!” That is the Humanity Project. But we need the assistance of adults like you to do that, helping us to spread our materials and programs around as much as possible. Thanks so much for anything you can do to make that happen.
Children must be taught to share. Children of all ages, from infancy through high school. That’s one of the things we do at the Humanity Project — helping kids to help kids by working with them to share their talents and knowledge with peers. We do this by helping them create programs that curb distracted driving, reduce bullying and ease social isolation. We help kids to help kids by teaching them to share.
The gift on my desk
Sharing is an important lesson for us all to teach. I think about it often. On my desk sits a small bronze figure of Buddha, representing to me the many wise lessons imparted to the world by this insightful man. But it also means something else: friendship. The inexpensive figurine was handed to me spontaneously by a woman at a shop along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. The sales clerk did this as a kindness, I believe, a gesture of good will between us. I already had bought several masks and other art pieces at her store and paid for them. She had nothing to gain except my smile.
As I dusted the Buddha during my weekly housecleaning one day, this thought occurred to me: the gift was given with no knowledge of how I would receive it. I might just as easily have seen this as worthless junk and tossed it in the nearest trash can. Or I might have put it in some jewelry box when I returned home and never glanced at it again. Or. Or … yes, I might have looked at this small gift in the way I do, as an object I genuinely appreciate and use to enhance my life. That thought led me to another. Isn’t the same true of our own gifts, the talent and experience and enthusiasm we can share with others? All we can do is to give these, with no knowledge of how they will be received. Just like the Buddha from my friend in Bangkok. We only have the power to hand out our individual treasures to the world. What the world does with them is entirely up to others to decide. That’s a lesson worth sharing with the kids in our life.
The new school year fast approaches us — wow, where did the summer go, huh? But we’re excited about it at the Humanity Project. We’ll soon be telling you about some new programs we’re introducing, new ways for us to help your kids. Remember, that’s our thing: “Helping kids to help kids!” It means we work with kids to develop programs for other kids, then implement those programs … for free. So as a reminder, here are our major programs as they stand at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. Again, we offer these at no cost to you or your school. Give us a shout so we can help you to help your kids!
Anti-bullying Through The Arts — This is the Humanity Project’s all-original anti-bullying program for grades K – 5. This program begins with a live 40-minute assembly that includes a positive rap song, roleplaying, stories and a music video – all created and produced by the Humanity Project. The program continues with follow-up classroom materials and, when requested, classroom visits. It is entertaining, memorable and effective. Pre/post testing since the first program in 2009 consistently has shown Anti-bullying Through The Arts is highly effective.
“I Care!” Teen Driver Safety – “I Care!” was created by talented high school authors working under the guidance of the Humanity Project. They wrote a book called, “I Care/Just Let Me Drive!” and this innovative teen-to-teen creation forms the foundation of our program. “I Care!” uses all-original rap poetry, quizzes, stories, even a comic book as a fun but powerful way to communicate memorable lessons about safe driving. But then the program asks students to share this book with their three best friends (and parents), who all must read the book and pledge to drive more attentively — not out of fear but rather out of friendship. The message is simple: “Don’t drive safely for yourself. Do it for your best friends (or kids), who want to keep you in one piece because they care about you.” The “I Care!” program now also includes a special website created by teens, for teens as well as original videos, Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram pages and more.
Thp4kids — “The Humanity Project 4 Kids” can be found at thp4kids.com. It is a special, teen-created website made for an equally special group of kids: socially isolated teens, including many in the LGBT community. Like all our programs, the website’s content is all-original from the Humanity Project: videos, music, blogs and poetry, interactive games and quizzes and more. This unique website functions as on online friend and advisor for struggling students who feel disengaged from family and friends in the everyday world.
Please use our Contact page to email us for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!
Autographs at Detroit Tigers Spring Training, 2015
Maybe it’s time to rediscover baseball … with your kids. Perhaps they’re your own kids, or young relatives or the kids of friends or neighbors. They could be kids you work with somehow, possibly through a nonprofit such as the Humanity Project. They might even be your grandkids. But I’m going to make the case in this blog that baseball is well worth your time. And theirs.
I’ve loved this great game all my life, intensely as a child growing up in Detroit around my beloved Tigers. My passion for the sport faded somehow for many years only to re-emerge as strong as ever now as a very mature adult. And because this organization I founded to help kids, the Humanity Project, is so in touch with young minds and young sensibilities, a thought occurred to me recently: Kids of all ages could benefit from learning the joys of baseball from an adult, especially a parent. Here’s why I think that’s true:
A different kind of sport: Baseball has been called a team sport played by individuals. Think about it. The pitcher and batter square off, alone. If the batter connects, he becomes a runner who competes only against the person fielding the ball, followed by competing with the person catching it. Baseball is a great team sport but it requires each individual to do their job effectively for the team to win. That’s unlike the dynamics in, say, football or basketball where a mediocre player can slide through an entire season on the backs of better teammates. Explain that side of baseball to your kids — and tell them how it is a value worth emulating in everyday life. We should do our best as individuals to help the team, whether that team is the home or the workplace or the whole community.
Better sportsmanship: Point out to your kids the way baseball players typically behave. Again, very unlike football or basketball players or athletes in many sports these days. With rare exceptions, baseball players pride themselves on avoiding showy displays of ego after they make a great play. Home run? They trot around the bases without trying to show up the pitcher. Incredible catch? They go back to their position to get ready for the next play. And ballplayers often talk and joke with players from opposing teams, even during very important games. They compete but don’t hate their opponents. Baseball is a game of class. And it can teach kids to behave well themselves, on the field or in life.
The Zen of the game: There is an almost meditative quality to watching a baseball game. That’s not to say the games are dull. They’re not — at least not if you understand the human dynamics happening throughout the game. I’ll clarify that point in a moment. But back to the Zen of baseball… The great sportscaster, and baseball enthusiast, Bob Costas put it this way: “Baseball is a game of atmosphere and anticipation, punctuated by moments of brilliance and excitement.” That atmosphere and that anticipation offer us time to relax and even to reflect as the game unfolds. Explain that to your kids, helping them to appreciate the poetic beauty of baseball. It’s a chance to slow down and enjoy life as you’re also being entertained.
A mental game: Precisely because it’s a team sport played by individuals, baseball also is a game of the mind. The pitcher and catcher must calculate what type of pitch the batter expects next, then give him something else. The batter has to understand that this is what’s happening as he awaits the ball, then himself calculate what the pitch might be. They’re not guessing. It’s based on statistics as well as experience and intuition. Baseball is a sophisticated mind game. Helping kids to recognize this also helps them to look a bit deeper into their own psyche as well as into the heads of others.
These are only some of the ways, described briefly, that baseball can become a valuable pastime to share with the kids in your life. We live in a frantic, frenzied, high-tech world. Baseball is one antidote to the ill effects our modern society can have on all of us. Every baseball game is a paean to our history as a nation, the great players and great moments since baseball was invented in 1839. And every game is an opportunity to quiet our lives as we enrich our appreciation of this sport and these remarkable athletes. It’s been said that hitting a Major League baseball is the hardest of all things to accomplish in sport. That may or may not be true. But I do know this much from personal experience: Watching fine players hit, and pitch and catch and throw, a baseball can teach important lessons about life … and form a bond between an adult and child that both always will cherish.
This time, just a brief blog to tell you about a podcast we hope you’ll want to hear. And share with the young people in your life. It’s posted here on our Humanity Project website, our latest ‘cast. And it’s called, “Generosity Philosophy.” Check it out at this link: Listen to the latest Humanity Project Podcast.
You’ll catch an interesting interview with Kim Trumbo, founder of the popular Generosity Philosophy Podcast. Kim was kind enough, and yes generous enough, to welcome me to her podcast on behalf of the Humanity Project several weeks ago. We wanted to return the favor because Kim is such an interesting person, with lots of wisdom to share. (Kim’s podcasts are available on her website as well as through iTunes and Stitcher. Go to the Generosity Philosophy Podcast website.)
Rather than take more of your time with a long blog, we’ll let you swing on over to our new podcast so you can listen to Kim for yourself. We think you’ll enjoy her, as we do. We also believe she just may inspire you to be a little more generous as you go through your day. And please share the podcast with your kids! We encourage you to sit and listen with them if they’re, oh say, maybe 12-years-old or more. Children can get a lot out of Kim’s generosity philosophy too.
Today we want to tell you a little more about a faithful friend of the Humanity Project — and a fine physician. He’s been my personal dermatologist for nearly 20 years. His name is Dr. David Sharaf of Skin and Cancer Associates and the Center for Cosmetic Enhancement in South Florida. Visit their website by clicking here.
He recently renewed his sponsorship of the Humanity Project, something he’s done consistently for the past several years. We are grateful as an organization. I am personally grateful as well.
Dr. Sharaf does this because he is a good man, someone who clearly cares about other people. I suppose that much is obvious simply by virtue of the sponsorship. It’s something he doesn’t have to do.
But let me tell you just very briefly about my experience with him as a doctor.
Dr. David Sharaf
When I was married, my then-wife was very fair-skinned and subject to pre-cancerous moles and such. One time, Dr. Sharaf discovered something more serious — melanoma. But he caught it quickly, diagnosed it correctly and sent us to one of the top specialists in the country, who happened to be in South Florida. She recovered rapidly and with little suffering along the way. I owe Dr. Sharaf for that. I trust him to find suspicious marks on my own body, also fair-skinned. And when I had something under my eye that needed treatment with a strong acid solution, well … there’s no one else I would have allowed to use caustic chemicals near my eyeball. But I had faith in Dr. Sharaf’s ability. Well-placed faith, as it turned out.
As you can tell, I think a lot of him. He didn’t ask me or the Humanity Project to say any of this, mind you. In fact, he discouraged me from saying anything at all. But when you’re lucky enough to know a good doctor who also is a good human being, I think people should know. Thank you, Dr. Sharaf! Thank you very much …
We wanted to share two fun new pics with you today. We were lucky at the Humanity Project to meet an energetic, community-minded woman named Susan Tomchin, a Girl Scout troop leader in South Florida. Ms. Tomchin contacted us about our I Care/Just Let Me Drive teen driver safety program: Could she give the program to her driving-age Girl Scouts? Yes, she could … and did. At no cost to her or the Girl Scouts or anyone but the Humanity Project. Our program is free, thanks to our sponsors.
Girl Scouts working on I Care to learn the dangers of distracted driving.
Girl Scout Troop #10717, with I Care books
Here is what this Girl Scout troop posted on the Facebook page of Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida: “Troop #10717 visited CarMax in Pompano Beach as part of their Driving My Financial Future/Buying Power badge work. Not only did they learn how to comparison-shop for a car, but how different features including safety ones factor into the car buying process. The girls also took a pledge to Not Text while driving as part of the Humanity Project/icare. Way to go, girls! What a great way to learn about making your first car purchase and staying safe while driving.”
We just delivered more than 100 copies of our highly regarded I Care/Just Let Me Drive teen driver safety program to a major Florida court for teens — at no cost to the court. As always, Humanity Project programs are free. (That’s why we rely on key sponsors such as State Farm, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Children’s Services Council of Broward County, Google and others … )
Dropping off I Care at a major Florida teen court!
This time we returned to Broward County Teen Court, which began to use our books last year. Broward County is home to the nation’s sixth largest school district, so there are lots of families and lots of teen drivers. I Care also has been used by teen courts in Miami-Dade County and Highlands County so far and we expect to reach out to additional courts in Florida and beyond in the coming months and years.
Other new I Care users in recent weeks include some State Farm agents in Florida and even a Girl Scout troop — more about the Girl Scouts soon. We have wonderful pics to share.
For now, though, we wanted you to know that some smart folks in our legal system recognize the impact and value of I Care, which avoids the usual scare tactics in favor of changing teen driving habits through friendship and positive peer pressure. Our unique approach works. And we love sharing it with as many officials, teachers, parents and others as possible so they can pass it along to their teen drivers. I Care was created by teens, for teens — kids helping kids. We know I Care can save lives if used as intended, which often requires adult supervision. This latest courthouse delivery is one more step forward. Of course, you can see for yourself what I Care is all about at our free website, also created by teens and for teens: www.thehumanityproject.com/icare. We hope you’ll pass along the link to a teen you love. Thanks!
She was elected by unanimous vote of our Board of Directors. At only 22-years-old, Stephanie Wong becomes the first student member of the Humanity Project’s governing body. As a Humanity Project Board of Directors Vice President, Stephanie will bring new perspectives, new ideas and her own great energy to our work of “helping kids to help kids.”
At the moment she joins our board, Stephanie is just finishing her Bachelor’s Degree work in psychology, with a minor in business, at Florida International University. She plans on graduate school in the coming years. After wrapping up her undergrad degree this summer, she already will have compiled an impressive record. Her credits include several months of study in Australia. Stephanie helped form FIU’s chapter of U.N. Women and is co-organizer of the College Brides Walk, a major South Florida event that draws attention to teen dating violence and domestic violence.
And she’s one of the coordinators of a peer education program called P.I.E.R, or “Peace In Every Relationship.” In addition, Stephanie is active in FIU’s National Organization for Women club and has worked as a child advocate volunteer at the Association House of Chicago. She also loves the arts, with a special affection for theater — as a high school student in South Florida, Stephanie was actively involved in theater productions. These days, she handles some website design on the side, creating the College Brides Walk website.
As you can tell, we’re not exaggerating by saying this young woman already has an impressive record. Most important, though, is what lies ahead for her and for the Humanity Project in our work with kids (and sometimes parents). We believe Stephanie will find fresh creative and dynamic ways to engage the students we help, allowing us to have an even greater impact on the community. Welcome to the Humanity Project, Stephanie! We are very happy you’re here.
How cool was this? Very cool … The Humanity Project just wrapped up a big high school scavenger hunt that used our I Care teen driver safety book for all the clues. More than 350 students took part at Monarch High School in South Florida, with a hunt so challenging it required two weeks of work by some very smart students. Here are our three prize winners, along with me. (Oh, by the way — I’m the one in the blue shirt. The knight did not win anything and isn’t affiliated with the Humanity Project, I assure you …)
First Prize was a new 16-gig iPad Mini with second and third prizes of iTunes gift cards as well as a small cash award for second place. And Humanity Project t-shirts for all three winners.
Actually, we think every student who participated in our I Care High School Scavenger Hunt is a winner. They each cared enough to learn about the importance of paying attention to the road when driving a car.
Check out this one-minute video with our three winners, a bright and engaged bunch of teens. Congratulations to each of them — and our thanks again to Monarch High School. It’s all just part of our continuing, and expanding, effort to prevent the number one cause of teen deaths, traffic accidents. With help from great kids like these, we’re making some progress toward that goal.