Posted By Bob Knotts on November 24, 2014
We just turned 9-years-old …. well, a couple of weeks ago anyway. On November 3, the Humanity Project celebrated (quietly) our ninth birthday. In a world where nonprofits come and go quickly and often, that’s an accomplishment in itself. We’ve survived some very tough times too. The early days when our programs were just taking shape — and no one knew about us. Then came the Great Recession, which we think historians ultimately will judge a true depression. Most contributors stopped contributing. Most sponsors stopped sponsoring, taking away funds from not only us but other fine organizations. Nonprofits all over the world folded up and blew away for good. We didn’t. In fact, the Humanity Project grew, creating our now-acclaimed Anti-bullying Through The Arts program in 2008 and taking it to the schools the next year. We also held our big Thousand Youth March for Humanity just as the recession really gripped our nation: Nov. 16, 2008, with more than 2,100 kids and adults marching through downtown Fort Lauderdale streets to stop bullying. Since then, we’ve put together a great Board of Directors and wonderfully loyal sponsors, such as State Farm and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Children’s Services Council of Broward County. We couldn’t do it without them. Please check out our sponsor page to visit their websites by clicking here: Go to our Sponsor page. We now have a unique and effective teen driver safety program as well as a very special website for socially isolated teens, with an emphasis on the LGBT community. We have free materials on bullying that are being used all over the United States and beyond. We have our PeacePage, a collaboration of nonprofits and individuals from all seven continents. I hope you’ll explore this website and our social media to learn more. At the Humanity Project, we’re very proud of the things we’ve done so far. But we know our best, most productive years are still ahead. That’s not a cliche in our case — it’s the truth. At 9, we’re only just getting warmed up.
Posted By Bob Knotts on November 16, 2014
Now there’s an odd equation for you: 2 + 2 = 1. But in this case, it makes sense. That’s because for the first time in Humanity Project history, we ran two programs in two different schools at the same time in one day. On Friday, November 14, our team gave two presentations of our acclaimed Anti-bullying Through The Arts program to children at Collins Elementary School in Dania Beach, Florida. At exactly the same time, students involved with our awesome I Care: Just Let Me Drive teen driver safety program presented two flash mobs for the 2,400-person student body at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Florida.
At Collins Elementary, 11/14/14
We think that’s pretty cool. Yes, much larger, better-funded nonprofits do this all the time, with several programs operating simultaneously. But the Humanity Project is different … in many ways. We’re small but with a national reach, sometimes even international. The Humanity Project offers several websites and lots of helpful materials used by thousands of people at no cost. Also 100% of Humanity Project funding goes toward our programs — few other nonprofits can make that same claim. As one police department administrator told us, “The Humanity Project does a lot with a little.” So indeed we’re quite pleased with this latest sign of growth for our group. You might enjoy checking out this short video, which shows one flash mob at Monarch High last week. It helped promote the I Care program to teens who will use our materials soon, learning to drive without distractions through our unique system. On Friday, though, it was all about having some fun as we reached out to teens at the same time we connected with young kids about bullying. Friday was a good day.
Posted By Bob Knotts on November 8, 2014
We hope you’ll take just a moment from your day to watch a new Humanity Project video. Honor student, Rina, gives a powerful speech to rally her peers behind the Humanity Project’s I Care: Just Let Me Drive program. Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Florida is doing some great work for our program this school year — working to spread the I Care message within the student body as well as far beyond it. Rina is the leader of Monarch’s student team, supervised by their teacher, Mr. Greg Kennedy. The video is only a little more than four minutes long … and it offers more evidence, we believe, that I Care can make a difference for young drivers.
Posted By Bob Knotts on October 31, 2014
(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from an article in the November 2014 edition of the Humanity Project newsletter. Our organization’s free newsletter comes out through email once a month. You can sign up for the newsletter in the right-hand column of this web page by clicking and providing us with your email address. No other information is requested.)
Dr. Laura Finley, Humanity Project Board of Directors VP
That’s our friend, colleague and Humanity Project Board VP, Dr. Laura Finley, smiling at you as we begin November. She just wrote a new book called, “School Violence,” published by ABC-CLIO. Laura very generously is donating all her royalties from the book to the Humanity Project. We are touched by her gesture — as she knows, we will use the money to help stop school violence and improve life for many kids.
“School Violence” is more than a book title to Laura Finley. It is a topic she understands well. Dr. Finley is a professor of sociology and criminology at Barry University, which recently was named among America’s Top Colleges by Forbes. She has taken a strong interest in issues related to dating violence and domestic violence. And she is a community and peace activist who, with her husband, Peter, is raising a delightful daughter of her own. We know Laura to be a smart, funny and genuinely caring person who puts great energy into her work toward a more peaceful world. Her newest book, “School Violence,” covers a broad range of issues related to that topic, including the history of school violence as well as controversies in the field and ideas for solving the problem. It also offers some outside perspectives on school violence, including a short section on bullying written by me as founder of the Humanity Project. We hope you may want to read Dr. Finley’s fine book, which you can buy directly from ABC-CLIO at this link: Visit the publisher’s page for “School Violence.” We highly recommend it for the detailed information Laura Finley has assembled on this important subject — and to help the Humanity Project fight bullying through Laura’s generous gift to us.
Posted By Bob Knotts on October 27, 2014
The Humanity Project by law is not a political organization. We don’t lobby for political causes, or religious ones for that matter. Our group has an IRS-recognized educational and literary mission, empirically based with a focus on kids. There’s nothing political about our support for some loyal friends at Children’s Services Council of Broward County. They are wonderful people who carry out their own important mission in this large South Florida region, home to the sixth largest school district in the United States. Their work includes vital financial support for a wide variety of programs for children, including the Humanity Project’s highly regarded Anti-bullying Through The Arts program.
Children’s Services Council of Broward County has just renewed its matching funding for the Humanity Project — for the 7th consecutive year. As a result, we’re able to reach more kids with our very effective program. That’s just one of many examples of the contributions made by CSC Broward. And we thank them. If you happen to live in Broward County, Florida, please vote to renew authorization for Children’s Services Council of Broward County. We know lots of our website visitors are from South Florida — as well as from other counties, other states, even many other countries. For Broward residents, though, this is an opportunity to help the Humanity Project express gratitude to CSC Broward in a meaningful way. With your vote to continue tax funding for this great organization.
One note to our voting friends: Look for the reauthorization question on Page 2, lower right corner of the ballot. It’s in an awkward spot and easy to miss. CSC Broward needs our help so they in turn can help tens of thousands of children in this area over the coming years … including the kids who gain so much from the Humanity Project. Children’s Services Council of Broward County isn’t political and neither is the community effort to make sure they stick around South Florida for a long time. That’s not politics. It’s just good sense.
Posted By Bob Knotts on October 16, 2014
Every week should be teen driver safety week. That’s what we believe at the Humanity Project. And it’s the reason we created I Care: Just Let Me Drive, our unique and, yes, innovative program for teenage drivers. But from October 19-25, we are stepping on the gas, as it were — moving forward even faster with our efforts to prevent teen traffic accidents. This Friday, a high school with 2,400 students will celebrate our I Care program at its big home football game. Next Tuesday, October 21, high school students will hold a major I Care rally, including student skits and readings taken from our I Care book. There’s more too, including flash mobs and contests and a variety of activities intended to let teens know about I Care. You might wonder why this is such a big issue. Here’s why: More teens die in car accidents than from any other cause. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, almost half the teens involved in car crashes die. And while we’re at it, here’s another sobering statistic: Nearly 80% of teens believe they can safely text while driving — though university research consistently shows that neither teens nor adults can do this. Driving seems like such a simple and mindless activity, doesn’t it? Why pay attention? Except that unexpected things happen all the time on the roads. If we’re not paying attention, we won’t react in time. So we need to think about driving as an action that requires focus … in case. We remain prepared because things may take place that demand our full and clear-headed experience to avoid tragedy. New drivers need this reminder often. The Humanity Project thinks this message comes through for teens more effectively when delivered by their peers. Our great major sponsor for I Care, State Farm, agrees with us — as does our other I Care sponsor, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital as well as partners such as Florida SADD and Barry University. We are grateful for their support and their commitment to teen driver safety. National Teen Driver Safety Week is a chance for all of us to remember just how important that issue really is.
Posted By Bob Knotts on October 11, 2014
We work very hard at the Humanity Project to keep things constructive, hopeful and inspiring. That’s true in this blog, in our popular social media and in all our programs. In that spirit, then, we honor the memory of a lost friend.
Shelly Solomon was a champion of bullied children, a woman who genuinely cared about the scars caused by school bullying. She worked hard to eliminate bullying in Broward County, Florida and beyond as co-chair of the Anti-bullying Task Force that created an effective school policy — a policy that was imitated around Florida. I knew Shelly well through my work on that task force. I recognized a human being of great intelligence and compassion, someone who believed strongly that the time of bullying must end. It was in large part because of Shelly that I was asked to serve on that task force. Even more importantly, Shelly was a key reason the Humanity Project had the opportunity to create our own anti-bullying program and take it to young school children. That program, called Anti-bullying Through The Arts, now is widely acclaimed well beyond the borders of Broward County or the state of Florida. More than 15,000 elementary school kids have benefited from Anti-bullying Through The Arts to date in Broward County alone, the nation’s sixth largest school district. And elements of the program have been used by schools from California to Maine.
The Humanity Project owes Shelly Solomon a lot. And so it is with real gratitude that we remember her. She passed away two days ago as I write this blog, her death the result of a tragedy that does not require specifics here. We really do believe in the positive at the Humanity Project. This tribute can serve as one among many expressions of affection and appreciation for this remarkable woman. And it can inspire those of us who knew Shelly to work even harder to make this world a more compassionate and welcoming place for every person. Thank you, Shelly.
Posted By Bob Knotts on October 7, 2014
This will be a brief post indeed — for a good reason. We’d like you to check out some new photos on our website’s main picture page rather than to spend a lot of time reading a post. At that page, you can take a look at a few cute photographs from our most recent Anti-bullying Through The Arts program. Here’s a quick link to the Photos page: http://thehumanityproject.com/photos/. We also hope this photo below might whet your appetite for more. While you’re at the Photos page, you may want to glance through some of the other pics you’ve missed. We think you’ll agree there are some good ones showing your Humanity Project in action!
Posted By Bob Knotts on September 28, 2014
Bullying can damage a child for a lifetime. But we can work together to change that — even after bullying happens. When we show a bullied child that he or she was not at fault, when we make them feel more secure and loved by others despite the bullying, we help limit the suffering caused by bullying. Today I want to tell you about some folks who did just that in a northern Ohio community called Bay Village. A 14-year-old autistic boy was seriously bullied by schoolmates who had promised to help him participate in the popular ice bucket challenge to raise money for ALS research. Instead, the classmates dumped a bucket filled with urine and spit on the boy — and recorded the whole thing on video. They then went a step further by posting the video on Instagram. Yes, horrible indeed. Local police are investigating the prank with an eye toward filing charges. But here’s the encouraging part of the story. Bay Village residents reacted by holding a rally to show support for the boy and increase awareness of bullying’s effects. They also are collecting money for ALS research and an organization called Autism Speaks. Some local folks are raising funds to help the family of the autistic boy as well. On a web page created by these good people, they wrote this: “Love only triumphs if we all share it. So… If you believe that this young man is awesome and you want to let him know, please share this with your friends on Facebook.” See what I mean? Surely this warm response to the bullying will better enable this boy to recover from the incident. And he will learn at the same time, as we’re reminded, that the bullies in our society are a distinct minority. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure bullying victims know this … and feel it too.
Posted By Bob Knotts on September 17, 2014
The Humanity Project long has worked closely with students — in many different ways. Now in the 2014-15 school year we have a great team of student volunteers through a new high school, all focused on spreading the word about our truly innovative I Care: Just Let Me Drive program.
Team I Care at Monarch High School
As you may know, this Humanity Project teen driver safety program avoids scare tactics, which research consistently shows are counterproductive with both adults and kids. No one wants to dwell on scary feelings, meaning lessons that try to teach with scare tactics quickly are pushed out of people’s minds. Instead I Care taps into a student’s need for social approval through a program that relies on friendship and positive peer pressure. It’s those pleasant feelings of friendship that bring about changed behavior behind the wheel, reducing distracted driving along with the accidents, injuries and deaths that too often accompany it.
So we’re thrilled to have an amazing team helping us reach many more teens during the next several months, right into June 2015. Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale, is lucky to have an accomplished DECA marketing club led by the dynamic Greg Kennedy. He’s a teacher full of wonderful ideas and great enthusiasm for making the world a better place. An equally dynamic young woman named Rina is the team’s student leader, joined by Kevin and Andres as you see in the photo. They’re a smart bunch. Together with the Humanity Project, they’re exploring ways both conventional and unconventional to get teens using our program … which just may save lives. It’s very early in the year and the hard work is still ahead of us. But we’re confident that Team I Care will make a big difference. Our I Care sponsors, State Farm and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, give the support that allows us to provide the program for free. Monarch High School also plans some fundraising efforts for us throughout the year, which will help a lot. So for now, we just wanted to introduce you to our newest student and teacher team members. And to say, stay tuned. We’re expecting some remarkable things.