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.)

  • Humanity’s Elevator

    Posted By on January 28, 2016

    Sometimes it’s hard to find exactly the right words. If someone asks you, “What’s the Humanity Project?” … how would you answer? Well, we have a suggestion today in this brief post.

    The Humanity Project in action

    The Humanity Project in action

    They call it an “elevator speech.” It’s what folks who run a business create to tell others about their work quickly, something so brief they could say it in the time it takes to ride an elevator with someone. So here’s our suggestion for your Humanity Project elevator speech:

    “The Humanity Project helps kids to help kids. They create programs working with talented teams of students, then take those programs to student leaders who teach them to their peers. In this way, they help prevent school bullying and distracted driving and they build feelings of self-worth in a broad range of students, including many LGBT teens.”

    That pretty much sums it up – in the time it takes for an elevator ride. Please pass along those words to someone who could benefit from our free programs and materials. Tell them about the Humanity Project and send them the link to this website. You just might help them to, uh, elevate their life …

    Welcoming Our New Board VP

    Posted By on January 21, 2016

    Today we officially welcome Ferial Youakim to the Humanity Project. Our Board of Directors has elected her unanimously as a Board Vice President to join our work of helping kids to help kids. We feel lucky to have her as part of our growing organization — and honored.

    Ferial Youakim

    Ferial Youakim

    Ferial Youakim has founded nonprofit organizations and businesses from Australia to the Middle East to the United States. She created Mums on a Mission in Sydney, Australia, a nonprofit group that was honored with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s National Gold Volunteer Award for Australia. She has been a sought-after image consultant since 1986 on three continents, focusing her work on strengthening the self-value of clients around the U.S., Middle East and Australia. Ferial is the founder and director of ByFERIAL, an international image consulting firm, and an author and motivational speaker. She is the founding president of Image Impact International, past president of the Association of Image Consultants (Sydney and Florida chapters) and the Middle East Ambassador and Arabic Community Liaison for AICI. Ferial also was Goodwill Ambassador for the Touch Of Goodness Foundation and Second Runner Up for Mrs Australia International.

    But there’s much more to her story, which is told in her new book, “You Are Beautiful: One Woman’s Journey.” The book isn’t out yet but we’ll let you know when it’s been published. For the moment it’s enough to understand that Ferial Youakim was born in a Lebanese refugee camp before moving to Australia in her youth. She now lives permanently in South Florida with her husband, Nabeel, a top Citrix executive. She endured many hardships as a child, sleeping two to a mattress in that difficult camp – and suffering through the murder of her father because he had helped a neighbor. All this is relevant because it has shaped Ferial, giving her a depth and insight that are rare. We know these and other great qualities will help Ferial to help our kids … who in turn will help other kids, their peers, to overcome bullying, prevent distracted driving and encourage feelings of self-value.

    So again, Ferial, welcome to the Humanity Project! We are very glad you’re with us.

    Kids Helping Kids

    Posted By on January 13, 2016

    You can see the Humanity Project’s trademarked slogan on our home page above: “Helping kids to help kids!” When you think of the Humanity Project, remember this phrase. That’s who we are. We help kids to help kids. So let me begin 2016 by explaining a bit more about why that’s true. Lots of other organizations do important work in the United States and around the world by helping kids. They feed hungry kids, they heal sick kids, they shelter homeless kids. They get kids off the streets or off drugs. All very valuable things, obviously.

    But the Humanity Project takes a different approach that’s just as valuable: We work with kids to create programs for their peers. Then we take the programs to those peer groups … who in turn work as our teachers. They teach our programs to other kids. Okay, that may sound confusing. So let me put it in specific terms. If you visit our website, you’ll see an example. We worked for three years with groups of magnet school and LGBT kids to create a website for socially isolated teens. Kids helping kids. (The website was made possible with a very generous grant from State Farm, by the way. It’s an unique and amazing resource for teens. Check it out.) Now we’re also taking the website and its important lessons about self-worth to a group of student leaders in school — and those student leaders will teach the lessons to their school peers. Again, kids helping kids.

    Or look at our acclaimed Anti-bullying Through The Arts program.

    Our anti-bullying program at Welleby Elementary School: Jan. 11, 2016

    Our anti-bullying program at Welleby Elementary School: Jan. 11, 2016

    This photo was taken during one of our presentations on Monday, January 11 … But our program doesn’t just involve adults telling kids to stop bullying. We teach kids how they can help other kids who are being bullied. We show young students why they should stop bullying and how to do it when they see someone being bullied. Kids helping kids.

    Our I Care: Just Let Me Drive program uses the same model. We created the program by working with groups of bright, engaged teens. Now we take that I Care program to other teens who share it with their best friends, teaching their peers to avoid distracted driving. See what I mean? Kids helping kids.

    Even the materials on this website are for older kids to share with their peers and with younger siblings too. (And of course our materials are also intended for educators and parents who can bring them to kids. Parents are very much part of the Humanity Project’s efforts of helping kids to help kids. Parents can use our videos and writings and quotes to offer guidance for their kids, who then can become role models for other kids. Parents are too important for us to ignore in our work.) But the main goal always remains the same. Helping kids to help kids! That’s what we do. That’s who we are. And we look forward to 2016 to do much much more of it for many many more kids of all ages.

    Hope For 2016

    Posted By on December 30, 2015

    There is so much good reason for hope. There seems so much good reason for despair. As we prepare to begin 2016, I wanted to offer a few thoughts that some may find encouraging. I often feel the need to remind myself about all the uplifting things, the encouraging things … yes, the hopeful things happening around us every day. They can be easy to miss. May your 2016 be full of humanity!

    We live in a time of frequent violence, of troubled race relations, of intolerance toward religions, of shallow opinions expressed with open hostility. And because we are fortunate enough to enjoy instant communication and wildly varied media sources, we must cope with the down side of that too: A continual bombardment of bad news and ignorant ideas. The world can appear bleak … if we let it.

    But a deeper look at the reality shows us something different really is going on. Just this past October, for instance, the World Bank made a very important announcement — and it got little news or social media attention. The number of people living in extreme poverty is about to fall under 10 percent. For the first time. The organization reported that this is part of a quarter-century of sustained progress, offering a real chance to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. Think about that. Now there’s a good reason for genuine hope.

    Many other social markers also are wonderfully encouraging, things like the growing number of people with access to decent water. And nearly 200 nations recently signed a legally binding pact to improve our environment through limits on global warming. There is a long list of such positives if we look for them. In the United States, gay marriage is legal, bullying is recognized as a serious issue, more attention has been focused on the problem of distracted driving. Hope. All of these, good reasons for hope.

    And in our own lives, we can find hope as well. I believe that learning to look past our immediate self-interest is one key to living a better life, in 2016 and beyond. If we find ways to share our talents and time and other blessings with people around us through efforts we care about, we can find meaning and purpose even during difficult periods. Helping others is the best way to help ourselves. That’s the lesson we try to teach our kids at the Humanity Project.

    And so here at the Humanity Project, we welcome 2016. As we begin our 11th year as a nonprofit group, we are hopeful about our work of helping kids to help kids … and sometimes parents too. And we also are hopeful for a world that continues its slow, painful but real movement toward improved lives for all people.

    Happy Holidays!

    Posted By on December 23, 2015

    Holiday E-Card 2015 (1)

    A Group Hug

    Posted By on December 15, 2015

    It’s so nice to have friends. Sometimes those friends are people. Sometimes they are groups … groups such as the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. And so to them during this season of love and friendship, we offer our version of a group hug by way of this blog.CSCLogo -- smaller resize

    You see, this blog is our thank you to these wonderful folks for their friendship and loyalty to the Humanity Project. They just have renewed their sponsorship of our organization, this time supporting our unique I Care: Just Let Me Drive teen driver safety program. We know it can save lives and we’re always finding new ways to do just that through I Care.

    For the past eight consecutive years, the Children’s Services Council of Broward County has sponsored the Humanity Project with a helpful grant — and even more helpful support in other forms. They have referred media and nonprofit organizations to us. They have included us in their own TV and other media efforts. They have allowed us to share our experience with fellow nonprofit staffers by teaching seminars. They have attended our programs for kids. And more.

    So yes, our thanks in this holiday season goes to the caring, committed individuals who make up the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. Starting with their wonderful leader, Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, the epitome of a nonprofit CEO who indeed is both caring and committed. And Sandra Bernard-Bastien, Chief Communications Officer, who brings her dynamic energy and wit to the South Florida community. And Andrew Leone, Assistant Director of Community Outreach, who seems indefatigable in his work year in and year out to help both children and parents. And Sue Gallagher, Chief Innovation Officer, who carries her razor-sharp intellect to each project she tackles. And … on and on the list goes. These are good people, working to do good things for others.

    We’re proud to be associated with the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. They are our sponsor, our partner. Best of all, they are our friend.

    Buy Your Holiday Gifts … For A Cause

    Posted By on December 5, 2015

    We’ll begin this blog with a link you’ll need: Click here to shop for Humanity Project Holiday gifts. Yes, for the first time in our 10 year history, the Humanity Project is holding an online auction with great gifts at great prices … for a cause. Just look over our many items and place your bids. All the proceeds from the auction will go to help our kids. It’s true. Every penny you spend on these exciting items goes straight to the Humanity Project, where 100% of our money is used for our programs. Auction good

    You’ll find some wonderfully unique gifts for sale — things you can’t pick up anywhere else. For excellent prices. Like the gallery quality serigraph on paper called “Romantic Evening” by the artist Isaac Maimon. Retail price is nearly $700. Our Humanity Project Holiday Auction bids for this piece open at only $300. But we also have new handmade jewelry purchased by our founder in remote Pacific islands, some listed for as little as an opening bid of $20. We also have silk scarves hand-loomed and hand-dyed in Bali, gorgeous items bought at the textile shop where they were made. And there’s a charming painting by the North Carolina artist Sondra Lucas, perfect for a child’s room. Take a look for yourself.

    "Romantic Evening" by Isaac Maimon

    “Romantic Evening”
    by Isaac Maimon


    You’ll find it’s very easy to bid. And just as easy to buy if your bid wins. The Humanity Project Holiday Auction is being run through eBay’s charity division, with payments going through PayPal’s safe payment system. No need to register with eBay or PayPal if you prefer not to do so. All credit cards are accepted.

    Even if you’re not looking for holiday items, you might find something for the upcoming Valentine’s Day or maybe for someone’s birthday or anniversary. Please check out our Humanity Project Holiday Auction, which begins on Monday, December 7 and continues for a week. You’ll be helping our kids to help other kids and getting some very special gifts at the same time. A win-win, for sure.

    A True Community Partner

    Posted By on November 24, 2015

    We love Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. For many reasons. They go out of their way to treat sick kids with compassion, using fresh approaches that can make a big difference. Lotsy Dotsy is their longtime staff clown, someone who is quick to bring a toy musical instrument or stuffed animal to a suffering child … inspiring a smile or maybe a good healthy laugh. Nutmeg is the JDCH resident dog, offering lots of warm friendly petting opportunities to those kids. JDCH believes in something they call the Power of Play — and so does the Humanity Project. That approach brings the spirit and mind of a child into the therapeutic mix through playful activity, motivating them to heal.

    Of course we’re also grateful to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital for another reason. For the past several years, this important health institution has sponsored the Humanity Project’s programs, first our anti-bullying efforts and then also our teen driver safety program. This month, JDCH renewed that sponsorship with a generous, and much-needed, check to us. We thank them, most sincerely.

    And we must single out some important individuals there too, folks who work for JDCH/Memorial Healthcare System and serve as their connections with the Humanity Project. They include Linda Herbert, who is Lotsy Dotsy.

    Lotsy Dotsy visits the Humanity Project

    Lotsy Dotsy visits the Humanity Project

    And Milin Espino, Director of Community Relations, as well as other wonderful people including Jennifer Belyeu, Theresa Garcia, Tim Curtin, Kerting Baldwin, Jamie Wood, Marilyn Camerota, Peggy Quinlan and others. A big thanks to each of them.

    Yes, we love Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. And we love working with them to improve the lives of children. We believe that JDCH and the Humanity Project make a great team.

    Nous Aimons Paris

    Posted By on November 18, 2015

    This is a more personal post for me, though I write it on behalf of the Humanity Project. I know our Board of Directors will share many of the sentiments I express here. We join the world in mourning the loss of life and the injuries from last week’s terrorist attack in the City of Light. Of course we do … All civilized people feel that way. And we are saddened by the people whose ignorance and hatred spawn such violence. We mourn for them too — for their lost potential, for their lost feelings of our common humanity. They might have done something decent to help others. They didn’t. It is a very sad thing all around, for victims and perpetrators alike. The loss is humanity’s loss. Every one of us suffers as a result of any attack on innocent lives. New iPhone pics -- Nov 2015 038

    I recall my first visit to Paris when I was 20-years-old, part of a classic hitchhiking-around-Europe thing that was the norm back then. I was utterly enchanted by the city. The great sights, the ambience, the people … I felt intoxicated. I’ve visited Paris a few times since, including during the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. I stayed in Paris for a time before and after covering that 1994 anniversary in Normandy as a newspaper reporter. And I loved Paris all over again.

    We all love Paris, don’t we? As they would say in French, “Nous aimons Paris!” Even if we’ve not yet had the chance to drink up the unique atmosphere in person. We love knowing there is a Paris.

    Paris will recover from this attack, as will France. As will we all. And in the end, we will win. The terrorists will go the way of all terrorists — into the margins of history. The Humanity Project stands with the people of Paris, the people of France and all the caring human beings that make up the vast bulk of humanity. And those of us at this organization are more determined than ever to do our small part to enhance the humanity we all share.

    Major National Attention For The Humanity Project

    Posted By on November 8, 2015

    The Humanity Project is featured in a great new article in State Farm’s national online magazine, Good Neighbors. The story talks about the expansion of our unique and innovative teen driver safety program, I Care: Just Let Me Drive. We hope you’ll want to click on over to read the story — and perhaps post a comment: Read the State Farm Good Neighbors article about the Humanity Project. 

    Rina Matarasso and her parents

    Rina Matarasso and her parents

    This is how the story begins: “As a new driver, I listen and observe closely what my parents say about safe driving, but sometimes their words don’t match their actions behind the wheel,” says Rina Matarasso.

    “I caught myself, a couple of times, mapping on the phone while driving,” says Charlie Matarasso, Rina’s dad. “I take quick glances at my phone to see if I missed a call. I know I shouldn’t do it and I tell my daughter not to, but I still do it sometimes.” A survey conducted by State Farm® in 2011 reported 54 percent of teens have seen their parents using a phone while driving. Parents are one of the most important influences on teen drivers and how they handle themselves behind the wheel creates a powerful example for their teens. …”

    Be sure to click on that link to read the rest of the piece. We can’t thank State Farm enough for this new national attention for our very special program — which now offers something just for parents of teen drivers, a fun and funny booklet called, I Care: Just Help Them Drive. You’ll find that booklet available for a free download right here on this website: Read the new Humanity Project booklet for parents of teen drivers. Of course, you already know that State Farm is the major sponsor of the I Care program, joined by other wonderful supporters that include Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Google. Thanks to them, we can bring the public this program at no cost — and so help thousands of teen drivers stay much safer on the road.