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!  

    Our tax-exempt 501c3 nonprofit group passionately believes society can improve -- if individuals understand why they benefit from moving beyond a purely self-centered life. We offer practical, psychology based ways for both kids and grownups to act not for "me" alone but rather for "us." We hope you'll enjoy exploring our site. (We love to hear from you! Please use our social media links or Contact page to tell us what you think. We have disabled comments on this site for added security. Thank you!)

  • 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.

    I Care 2.0 … Something For Parents

    Posted By on January 27, 2015

    We are excited to announce a major expansion of our innovative, and highly effective, “I Care: Just Let Me Drive” teen driver safety program. Now comes “I Care 2.0,” something to teach parents how to help their kids drive safely. It’s an important new effort generously funded by a $15,000 grant from our great partners at State Farm, continuing the company’s consistent commitment to I Care.ICareLogo -- high res

    High school junior Rina Matarasso knows why this is needed. She recognizes that parents can be just as clueless on the highways as their teenage children. And she also understands this hugely influences the driving habits of those teen drivers. Our new I Care 2.0 campaign will show parents how to become better role models – and help reduce the auto accidents that remain the number one cause of deaths among U.S. teenagers. “Parents definitely need to learn that their driving behavior is a role model for their kids,” says Rina, who heads a student team working on the I Care campaign. “And too often it’s a very bad role model!” Research consistently proves parental driving habits significantly affect the on-the-road behavior of teen drivers. The Humanity Project’s I Care driver safety program, created by teens for teens, will reach out to adults in new ways so that parents understand this reality – and become effective anti-distracted driving educators for their children. I Care 2.0 will connect with parents in the community through local organizations, schools and State Farm agents, offering new tools and helpful information for parents. These will be developed with the active assistance of teenagers themselves. Our kid-to-adult message will be simple and clear: “Don’t tell us what to do on the highway. Show us what to do by always doing it yourself.” I Care already connects with thousands of teens in South Florida, and many tens of thousands more nationally, through Humanity Project sponsor, Google. The program includes a free full-color book and website (www.thehumanityproject.com/icare) as well as multiple social media pages, videos and more. I Care also is being used by three Florida county court systems to date, including Broward and Miami-Dade counties. As always, we are profoundly grateful to our friends at State Farm. We truly could not do it without this public-spirited company and we look forward to expanding our partnership with them through I Care 2.0. Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Barry University are co-sponsors of the I Care program and we are deeply appreciative for their support as well.  An alternative SF logo THUMBNAIL -- new Jan 2015

     

    As you may know, State Farm and its affiliates together make up the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. Their agents serve 81 million policies and accounts, including auto, home, life and health policies. For more information, please visit www.statefarm.com. And stay tuned as we create I Care 2.0 in the coming months. We’ll tell you all the important details about this bold new effort to save teen lives by working with parents. With help from State Farm and our teen volunteers, we may just be able to help many more parents get a clue at last.

    A Student’s Voice Against Bullying

    Posted By on January 19, 2015

    (Editor’s Note: This blog was written especially for the Humanity Project by Stephen Ross, a Florida high school student. Please also look for the link in this blog to Mr. Ross’s fine anti-bullying song and video, “Choose 2 Luv.”)

    Stephen Ross -- anti-bullying video -- Jan 2015

    Stephen Ross

    My name is Stephen Ross; I am a senior at Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida. In September of last year, one of my classmates committed suicide. It is believed that bullying had a lot to do with this tragic event.

    I really wanted to do something that could have an impact on bullying at my school and at other high schools across the country. I decided to use my love of songwriting and passion for music to create an audio-visual message that would hopefully create a “mind-heart shift” among my peers. So I spent about two weeks writing the lyrics and melody for “Choose 2 Luv.” When I was satisfied with the song, I contacted a friend to help lay the musical track and master the song.

    The harder part for me was coming up with the storyboard for the video. This was something that I had never done before. I had so many different ideas for the video. But with the help of the director, Ronnie Camilo, we agreed on a vision for the video.

    I played the song for my National Honor Society advisor and showed her the video storyboard; she really loved it. She agreed to send an email to all of the National Honor Society students at my school to suggest that they participate in the video shoot. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    Not quite, Stephen. Though that’s the end of Mr. Ross’s blog, we wanted to add just a few words more. The Humanity Project applauds his efforts to create a meaningful contribution to the growing number of anti-bullying art works of all kinds, musical, theatrical, visual and others. And we hope you’ll now click on this link to hear the result of his hard work: Watch the video, “Choose 2 Luv,” by Stephen Ross.

    Getting Better All The Time

    Posted By on January 10, 2015

    There’s a line from a wonderful song by the Beatles that goes, “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time.” As 2015 begins, that’s our message from the Humanity Project to you. Despite the headlines, despite all the tragedy and illness and death that seem to surround us, things in the world actually are getting better. Want proof? Consider some statistics. The World Health Organization last year reported life expectancy is up globally. Infant mortality is down. More people have access to clean water. Read more about this. Then there’s social improvement, from wider acceptance of gay rights to the worldwide anti-bullying movement.

    Gay marriage is gaining acceptance

    Gay marriage is gaining acceptance

    Right here in Florida, where the Humanity Project is based, the ban on gay marriage ended only this week. That comes after years of legal battles and much struggle by loving gay couples. Look around for yourself, really look around, and compare what you see with the way things looked in our society even a decade or two ago. Though the U.S. and many other nations have a long way to go to achieve racial equality, we nonetheless have an African-American president — something I wasn’t sure I’d ever live to see. That’s progress. Our own Congress today is made up of a broader cross-section of our country than ever, including more women and Hispanics and blacks and Native Americans. Things are changing …. for the better. We like to believe that the Humanity Project, in our own small way, is contributing to these changes. We help kids, with unique programs that no other organization offers. Anti-bullying, teen driver safety, help for socially isolated youth including LGBT teens. Take a look at our programs if you’d like to learn more about us. Yes, the general trend in society worldwide is upward, positive, encouraging. There is much for all of us still to do, obviously, but we’re on the right track. That’s good reason for hope as the new year dawns. As usual, the Beatles had it right: Things are getting a little better all the time.

    Happy 2015!

    Posted By on December 31, 2014

    Happy 2015

    Everyone at the Humanity Project wishes you a joyful, healthy 2015! May we all make

    great leaps forward!

    From Us To You: Happy Holidays!!

    Posted By on December 23, 2014

    The Humanity Project Board of Directors wishes you the very best in this season of peace ...

    The Humanity Project Board of Directors wishes you the very best in this season of peace …

    Imagine …

    Posted By on December 16, 2014

    Short post today about a big topic: World peace. Followed by a question — can a song help bring about world peace? At the Humanity Project, we’re doing our part to contribute to a charming, and inspiring, effort to make a more peaceful world through music. Our Humanity Project Board of Directors just dropped our own version of John Lennon’s classic anthem, “Imagine.” You can hear and see us in this video: Watch the Humanity Project perform “Imagine.”

    The THP Board Imagines!

    The THP Board Imagines!

    As you’ll quickly learn, we don’t exactly sing as well as John Lennon, or have the filmmaking skills of Steven Spielberg for that matter. Not in this one-take iPhone video anyway. But you will find us most definitely in the proper spirit of the ongoing Imagine project, which is sanctioned by Yoko Ono. And UNICEF, which receives a $1 donation for every upload of “Imagine” using the TouchCast app. Please consider making your own version of “Imagine” by downloading TouchCast to your smartphone or tablet. The Humanity Project believes meaningful world peace really is possible, in some form, at some time … and we know we’re not the only ones.