The Humanity Project

To create and implement innovative programs that teach children and adults how to use cooperation and social connection for individual development and grassroots community improvement
  •    Welcome to the Humanity Project!  

     

    "Helping kids to help kids!"™

    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. Please use our social media links or Contact page to get in touch. (We've disabled new comments for added security.)

     
  • Distracted Driving And Your Kids

    Posted By on April 14, 2015

    April is national Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It’s a very good moment to pause and think about your own habits as parents – or as any adult whose behind-the-wheel behavior may be seen and copied by young drivers. IMG_0969With help from our great major sponsors, State Farm and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, we’re doing our part here at the Humanity Project to encourage attentive driving. Our work this month includes talking with teens and parents at many community events. We’re even chatting with young kids who only ride in cars, encouraging them to urge their parents or other adults to pay attention when driving.

    We’ve just delivered 350 copies of our awesome I Care teen driver safety book to a South Florida high school, each copy to be used by its young owner and then shared with three best friends. And both parents. That’s potentially 2100 people who will be learning safer driving from I Care in April at this one school alone. We’re also part of youth events such as an I Care scavenger hunt. And we’re giving away an iPad Mini and iTunes gift cards to students who use I Care books and pass a test to show they retained the anti-distracted driving lessons.

    Of course, the Humanity Project works year round to teach safe driving to teens and parents. It’s one of our three major programs, including our acclaimed ant-bullying work and our unique website for socially isolated students – an online resource created by teens for their peers. Check out our Programs page for more info. And remember to mind your driving, please. You never know how many young drivers notice you checking email, texting or chatting away on the phone while you’re driving … and then decide, “Hey if they can do it, why can’t I?”

     

    Into The Community

    Posted By on April 5, 2015

    More and more, the Humanity Project is getting out and getting in … Out into the community, in conversations with kids and moms and dads and teachers and nonprofit colleagues at events around South Florida. Of course, we’ve always done our best to connect with our neighbors.

    Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital spring event -- April 2015

    Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital spring event — April 2015

    But now we’re doing a lot more of it. So today, just a few recent pics to show you some of the folks we’re lucky enough to meet.

    We’ve even created some fun new ways to start chats at these events, an opportunity for us to discuss our three main programs and educate the public about important topics like safe driving and school bullying. Visit our Programs page.

    Our new I Care prize wheel starts conversations

    Our new I Care prize wheel starts conversations

    Take a look at our latest gadget, created specifically to promote our innovative I Care: Just Let Me Drive program: A prize wheel. It’s a good tool for talking to teen drivers and their parents but also to young kids who ride in vehicles with adults. Everyone enjoys the wheel, often returning to spin it again and again. And we give out prizes too, including some of our cool Humanity Project t-shirts. A fun way to discuss distracted driving – what it is, why it’s so dangerous.

    At the Barry University Bride's Walk event, February 2015

    At the Barry University Bride’s Walk event, February 2015

    We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events if you happen to live in South Florida. And if you’re among our many fans in other parts of the United States or in other countries, please feel free to get in touch with us by email or phone. We love to talk with you about our programs and ways you might want to get involved … and we’re always eager to help if you have a problem that overlaps one of our program areas. A child being bullied? A teen getting her first license? A son or daughter who struggles with social isolation? Check out our programs page and other free materials first – and then if you need more information, just let us know.

    Humanity Project Making News

    Posted By on March 30, 2015

    Thank you, El Sentinel! This newspaper is one of the most important Spanish-language newspapers in an area of the United States that is heavily Spanish-speaking: South Florida. And the Humanity Project is featured in El Sentinel’s new edition, with a major story on the expansion of our innovative I Care: Just Let Me Drive program: Read the El Sentinel story. That expansion is called I Care 2.0, aimed at helping parents better understand why and how they influence the on-the-road behavior of their teenage drivers.

    If you want to know why this is such an important issue, here’s a sobering fact for you: More teens die from auto crashes than from any other cause. Illustration on phoneAnd new information from AAA shows us that distraction is the reason for most of those accidents. According to their study, fully 60% of teen crashes happen due to distracted driving. Put two and two together and we come to the obvious conclusion: Distracted driving is killing our kids. I Care helps teens avoid distraction through a clever, witty use of positive peer pressure and friendship. Now I Care 2.0 will get parents into the act too. If we teach parents to practice what they preach about driving, we’ll take another big step toward reducing those teen accidents. That’s because other research tells us parents greatly influence their kids’ driving behavior. We’re pleased that El Sentinel recognizes the importance of I Care and now I Care 2.0 – and is helping us spread the word about our program en Espanol. Muchas gracias, amigos!

    Positively Good News

    Posted By on March 23, 2015

    We like to think of the Humanity Project as a relentlessly positive nonprofit group. We focus on what we can do to improve things rather than wringing our hands about all the problems in the world.

    Visit our I Care website too: www.thehumanityproject.com/icare

    Visit our I Care website too: www.thehumanityproject.com/icare

    With that in mind, we think you’ll enjoy the new podcast we posted just this afternoon – a program with lots of good news about our innovative I Care: Just Let Me Drive teen driver safety program. With a new $15,000 grant from State Farm, we’re creating a major expansion of I Care … this time aimed at parents. Research shows that parents greatly influence their kids’ driving habits. So I Care 2.0 will help dads and moms understand this, showing them how to become better role models.

    Check out the I Care 2.0 podcast, with two great guests from State Farm. Jose Soto and Melba Ballard talk about what’s new with I Care and how State Farm is helping us bring the program to many more families: Listen to the podcast.

    Melba Ballard and Jose Soto present a big check to the Humanity Project's Bob Knotts

    Melba Ballard and Jose Soto present a big check to the Humanity Project’s Bob Knotts

    As always, everyone at the Humanity Project thanks State Farm and our other major I Care sponsor, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. We’ll be telling you a lot more about I Care 2.0 when the expanded program is ready to unveil, of course. For now, our new podcast will share with you some of the very good news about I Care.

    Meet Our Board Of Directors

    Posted By on March 14, 2015

    We’ve added a new, and overdue, page to this website. Now you can find photos and bios for our entire Board of Directors. We’re proud of our distinguished board — and we must explain that we’ve waited to create a page like this until now for only one reason. Our organization is about “us,” about the value of helping others. Not about “me.” Our concern was a bio page for our board might send the wrong message, as if our work revolved around egos rather than efforts to improve society. Our good friend Kim Trumbo, founder of the Generosity Philosophy Podcast, was among those who persuaded us to change our mind so you would know the people behind the Humanity Project. The new page is linked off our existing About page: Visit the new Board of Directors page. But we wanted to make it easy for you to see what was new — so you’ll also find the same content in this blog. Thanks. We think you’ll enjoy meeting these wonderful folks!

     

    Bob Knotts

    Bob Knotts

    Bob Knotts, Founder and President: Author of 24 books, five plays and many poems, lyrics and nonfiction articles. He founded the Humanity Project in November 2005 to create practical applications that would help people based on ideas expressed in his writings. Mr. Knotts is among fewer than 50,000 Americans whose biographies appear in the prestigious Marquis “Who’s Who in America” and “Who’s Who in the World” reference books. A lifelong musician, he also creates and performs much of the Humanity Project’s original music including the Humanity Project Podcast theme. http://www.rsknotts.com

     

    Laura Finley

    Laura Finley

    Dr. Laura Finley, Vice President: With a Ph.D. in sociology, she is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Barry University. Dr. Finley is also the author or co-author of 13 books as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her latest book is called, “School Violence.” Dr. Finley is actively involved in local, state and national efforts to promote peace, justice and human rights. In 2008, she started the Center for Living and Teaching Peace, which provides training and education related to the promotion of peace in all its forms. https://www.barry.edu/sociology-criminology/faculty/finley.html

     

    Matt Corey

    Matt Corey

    Matt Corey, Vice President: CEO and President of Insight for the Blind, a long-established nonprofit that records books and magazines for the Library of Congress’ Talking Books program. He also oversees technical aspects of Insight’s recording, holding both a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Applied Music from the University of Miami. Mr. Corey remains very active in the South Florida arts as a composer, sound designer and performing musician and has won the region’s highest theatrical award multiple times for best sound design. A bassoonist with the Boca Raton Symphonia, he teaches bassoon and music production at Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University. http://www.insightfortheblind.org/

    Gabriela Pinto

    Gabriela Pinto

     

    Gabriela Pinto, Vice President: After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts, she worked for some of the most significant museums in Bogota, Colombia, including the Museum of Modern Art and the National Museum of Colombia. In 2000, she joined the Fondazione Leo Matiz in Milan, Italy as Archive Director and took part in a Matiz retrospective in Madrid, Spain. In 2002, Ms. Pinto moved to Fort Lauderdale where she began working for prominent art galleries. In April 2010, she created www.heal-anxiety-and-depression.com, a website for the community to learn about dealing with emotional distress without medication. The website material is based on both scientific research and her personal experience. She also helps to present the Humanity Project’s Anti-Bullying Through The Arts program at elementary schools. http://www.heal-anxiety-and-depression.com/

    Bob LaMendola

    Bob LaMendola

    Bob LaMendola, Secretary/Treasurer: Community Affairs Manager for the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, Florida since October 2013. He helps create and maintain strong contacts with community organizations and the public, as well as conducting writing and speaking projects to educate the community about health issues. Previously Mr. LaMendola was a staff manager for the Broward County HIV Planning Council, a volunteer panel that oversees HIV-related spending and services. Prior to entering the health field, he spent 35 years as a daily journalist, including 25 years on health and local government beats for the South Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. He is a longtime bass guitar player and currently leads his own jazz band called the Jazz Survivors. http://www.jazzsurvivors.com/

    A Day For Hope … For Us All

    Posted By on March 8, 2015

    They call it “International Women’s Day.” But, really, it’s a day for everyone — men and women and kids alike. I’m writing our blog on this day designated to encourage women’s equality, and I’m writing it for a reason that fits very much into the mission of the Humanity Project as I’ll explain in a moment. First, though, I want to add this organization’s voice to the millions around the world, all celebrating the achievements of women.

    Girls like these need the chance to share their best with the world

    Girls like these need the chance to share their best with the world

    I do believe it’s a day that can help everybody through strengthening the global women’s movement, bringing us a step closer to tapping the wasted potential of so many females in so many countries. (Visit the International Women’s Day website.) Look at the photo I snapped during a 2012 trip to China, those two adorable young girls holding hands as they enjoy popsicles. They need the same opportunity as boys to find what they do best and share it with us all. The world can’t afford to squander the talents of half our people any longer. In that sense, we each only can benefit by helping to change outdated attitudes about women that still linger in societies everywhere, even here in the United States where the Humanity Project is based.

    The Humanity Project is about sharing in ways that help others and ourselves, all at the same time. Our three innovative programs accomplish this by tackling pressing youth problems that our group has the expertise to address, creating collaborative arts-based efforts that also celebrate the value of each individual. We call our original approach “shared value.” (Find out more about shared value.) Or click on our PeacePage link here or in the menu above. You’ll find that our nonprofit group believes that every human being has equal worth and an important role to play in contributing to an improved world. That’s what International Women’s Day is about too. We need every one of us, male and female, for humanity to move forward now.

    One For The Team

    Posted By on March 1, 2015

    This is a personal blog today — about something that very much includes the Humanity Project. No, I have no major announcement, no huge news. Just a brief story to tell about meeting a man who personifies for me the notion of excellence in the service of a team. Al Kaline is called Mr. Tiger, the longtime face of the Detroit Tigers baseball team. I have admired him since I was at least seven-years-old, growing up in suburban Detroit … and ever since that time I wanted to visit the Tigers’ spring training camp in Lakeland, Florida. Kaline was drafted into the major leagues directly out of high school, straight to the Tigers organization where he played his entire career. He was elected on the first ballot into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. Kaline went on to become a broadcaster with the Tigers, then moved into administrative and advising positions, which he still holds. He was the epitome of a great team player, much like Derek Jeter of more recent fame. Kaline gave his all for many years and helped the Tigers win a World Series title but without undue personal ego, without putting his own private interests ahead of the Tigers. He once turned down $100,000 annual salary because, he told the Tigers, no ball player should make as much as the President of the United States. Yes, he wanted less money … How times have changed.

    Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer, with Humanity Project Founder Bob Knotts

    Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer, with Humanity Project Founder Bob Knotts

    On Friday morning, I went to the Tigers spring training camp in Lakeland and, through sheer serendipity, I met Al Kaline. We spoke for perhaps four or five minutes — and I told him of my admiration. Despite a cold wind, he graciously posed with me for a selfie, which I plan to frame and add to my office wall.

    So, you may ask at this point, “Great … but what does this story have to do with the Humanity Project?” I’ll tell you the connection I see. We are a nonprofit built on the idea that a life lived for “us” is fuller, healthier and more meaningful than a life lived solely for “me.” Al Kaline exemplifies that “us” attitude. He played baseball as a great athlete who felt committed to helping the team win rather than working simply to break records or make as much money as possible. And it paid off, for him personally as well as for the Tigers. My point? The best way to serve our own true self-interest is to use our best talents in the service of others, to work for something larger than ourselves. All our Humanity Project programs are focused in one way or another on that concept — “If you help someone, you know you help yourself,” as our Humanity Project anti-bullying song says. For me, my memorable moment with Al Kaline was a wonderful reminder that the song lyric has it right.

     

    Tests Show Our Anti-bullying Program Works

    Posted By on February 21, 2015

    We’re proud. For six years now, pre/post testing conducted by schools themselves consistently shows the Humanity Project’s acclaimed Anti-bullying Through The Arts program works. Over and over, these tests given to elementary school kids tell us that our message sinks in: “Bullying hurts everyone in this school … and it takes everyone to stop it!” Our program is based on scientific research and empirical study, with an emphasis on teaching bystanders how to help curb bullying behavior in positive ways.

    Heron Heights Elementary gets the anti-bullying message. (Photo by Andrew Leone, Children's Services Council of Broward County)

    Heron Heights Elementary gets the anti-bullying message. (Photo by Andrew Leone, Children’s Services Council of Broward County)

    Just yesterday, February 20, we gave this program to some 400 children at Heron Heights Elementary School in Parkland, Florida — a wonderful school run by an equally wonderful principal, Mr. Ken King. We were honored to have some VIPs in attendance as well, including folks from Children’s Services Council of Broward County and Broward County Public Schools … with a special shoutout to Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, CEO of Children’s Services Council of Broward County. And we were gratified to welcome the family of another community leader, Shelly Solomon, who passed away last fall. Shelly was a great friend of children in Florida — and also a great friend to the Humanity Project. She helped lead the task force that created an anti-bullying policy widely copied by school districts around this state. Hundreds of thousands of school children in Broward County and all over Florida benefited from her passion to stop bullying. Shelly made sure the Humanity Project program had the chance to prove its worth in the schools. Since then, the program has been picked up by schools from California to New England.

    So a big thanks to Harold and Jan Solomon, Shelly’s brother and sister-in-law, and to other Solomon family members who were at Heron Heights on Friday.

    Harold and Jan Solomon, with Humanity Project Founder Bob Knotts (Photo by Andrew Leone, CSC Broward)

    Harold and Jan Solomon, with Humanity Project Founder Bob Knotts (Photo by Andrew Leone, CSC Broward)

    Through our program, and through anti-bullying rules written by her team, Shelly Solomon’s legacy lives on. And thanks to Heron Heights and to Mr. King (and Ms. Marino, who helped arrange our visit) for the warm welcome — and the chance to share our uplifting message with your kids. Those delightful children made us all smile.

    Generosity Philosophy

    Posted By on February 11, 2015

    We’ll keep this post brief — mostly because we hope you’ll do more listening than reading today. A wonderful organization called Generosity Philosophy produces a weekly podcast, with the Humanity Project featured in the latest episode. You’ll hear Generosity Philosophy founder, Kim Trumbo, talking with me about our work here at the Humanity Project. Kim is a fine interviewer who turned the discussion to some key aspects of the Humanity Project, including the reasons I founded this group in 2005. Our chat was wide-ranging. It gets into our programs, our key sponsors, our guiding philosophy, even some of my own travels around the world. Here’s the link to our Generosity Philosophy Podcast: Click here to listen.

    Working with our kids during an anti-bullying program

    Working with our kids during an anti-bullying program

    We’ll be telling you more about Generosity Philosophy in future weeks, but for now I would urge you to check out some of their other podcasts — and to subscribe to the podcasts too. The Generosity Philosophy Podcast also is available in iTunes and Stitcher. The programs will put you in touch with a wide variety of people and organizations doing valuable work that makes our communities better places for us all. Thank you, Kim Trumbo, and Generosity Philosophy. We love what you’re doing and appreciate the chance to connect with your many listeners.

    Another Type Of Bullying

    Posted By on February 4, 2015

    (Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Dr. Laura Finley, Vice President of the Humanity Project Board of Directors. Dr. Finley teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.)

    I know this piece comes in the midst of great trauma and global challenges that are deeply emotionally charged. But I see great value in offering another perspective on the Charlie Hebdo publications and subsequent attack, as I feel as though to date the conversation has been entirely binary. Either you are for free speech and support Charlie Hebdo or you are, in the U.S and the Western world, for terrorism. That is a false binary, and one that I believe contributes to the problem. I think there is a vast place between the two that can help us move toward a more peaceful coexistence with people who value freedom of speech and those who care deeply about freedom of religion. Although I do not agree 100 percent with what Pope Francis said about the issue, I do think his perspective has a lot to offer.

    Dr. Laura Finley, Humanity Project Board of Directors VP

    Dr. Laura Finley, Humanity Project Board of Directors VP

    I agree that verbal provocation is no excuse for violence, as the Pope clearly said. But I also see how some like Polly Toynbee in The Guardian can argue that the Pope’s comments were akin to a “wife beater defence.” However, another way of looking at the issue is that the folks at Charlie Hebdo are little more than bullies. It is obvious that continual harassment about an issue on which people are terrifically sensitive will not be well-received. In this case, the victims of the harassment are billions of people — it is all those who follow Islam’s dictates that it is blasphemy to denigrate Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. This is what the Pope said … not that violence is justified, just that it shouldn’t surprise us, either, as it was intended to incite and disrupt.

    I am not saying we should never critique unfair policies or practices. In fact, we probably need to do even more of that without suffering repercussions, as is Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Bedawi, who has been lashed for his secular commentary. Satire and political cartoons can be an incredibly useful tool for raising awareness about various atrocities. But I have a hard time seeing how provocative images of who an estimated two billion people believe is their savior does anything to question policies, to shine a light on injustices, or to move the world in a better direction. Poke fun at dictators? OK. Of politicians who make promises then repeatedly renege? OK. At pompous messengers of “religious doctrine” who themselves violate the very tenets they profess? OK. But of the actual deities, I feel less confident. For instance, while I see the merit in satirizing the priests who allowed decades of abuse to be swept under the rug or the alleged followers of Islam who terrorize children in the name of their religion, I have a harder time seeing anything but bullying when it comes to attacking Jesus, God, Allah, Buddha, or other deities themselves. In the U.S, we pass laws prohibiting bullying. We train educators about it so that they can disrupt the behavior. The White House has weighed in on the issue and issued reprimands to schools and universities who fail to disrupt bullying behavior. Yet here, when journalists pick and poke at the most holiest of holies, they couch their behavior in “rights language.”

    At least in the United States, journalistic enterprises have the “right” to poke fun at religious leaders and doctrine in the name of free speech. But I think what the Pope means is that perhaps we shouldn’t be looking at this as a rights issue at all. Perhaps it is, quite simply, mean to do what Charlie Hebdo repeatedly does and that, instead of an even greater divide between adherents to Islam and those who defend free speech, we should be looking for ways in which people can come together. Many scholars have argued that “rights talk” limits the dialogue or simply results in opposing sides trenching deeper into their positions. Harvard Law Professor and author of Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse, Mary Ann Glendon, argues that “A penchant for absolute formulations (‘I have the right to do whatever I want with my property’) promotes unrealistic expectations and ignores both social costs and the rights of others.”

    So, what next? I’d like to see an international dialogue that addresses the complexities of the issue, not just the surface opposition of freedom of speech versus freedom of religion. I’d like us to move to a place where we understand that, while we technically have the right to say or write something, we should exercise better judgment unless we can truly support the fact that our efforts will result in something better. I remain hopeful that others will view the issue similarly. I remain hopeful that, rather than dig deeper into their defenses, the many people with diverse perspectives on this issue will choose to consider another option.