Experts Support More Antibullying Programs

The Humanity Project's Antibullying Through The Arts program

We've always known the Humanity Project approach to bullying works. A decade's worth of empirical testing shows us this. We hear positive reports from teachers, counselors and students at the schools we visit as well. From other data, we also know that our Humanity Club helps build a more respectful environment within schools. In today's parlance, the Humanity Project offers "emotional learning" to kids. These are the skills children need to become healthier, better adjusted human beings -- and also better students in the process. 

So we were especially gratified to read about a new action plan created after the horrible shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which is located in Parkland, Florida not many miles from the Humanity Project. This plan was created by leading national experts on school violence. And it's now been endorsed by more than 200 universities, school districts, national mental health and education groups along with more than 2,300 individual experts in the field.

Here's one important part of their message: To stop school violence, don't arm teachers, buy more metal detectors, install bulletproof glass. Instead bring in more programs that help stop bullying and create a respectful educational environment for all students. In other words, do exactly what the Humanity Project already is doing. Quoting from a recent NPR story about this new action plan: Research by experts "has consistently found key factors that can make schools safer: cultivate social and emotional health, connect to community resources and respond, particularly, to troubled students. Why does this matter? Well, for one thing, the very kids who bring weapons to school are more likely to report being bullied or threatened themselves. They may be fearful of gang violence and feel a need to protect themselves on the way back and forth to school. Or, they may be individually ostracized and aggrieved. This is true not just in the United States." NPR quotes a co-author of the action plan as saying the same is true in "Kosovo, Canada, Chile, Israel, the kids who bring weapons to school are reporting tons of victimization."

By working with students to help their peers, by creating a school climate of respect for all, an appreciation of diversity and self-worth, the Humanity Project teaches children emotional skills that can help prevent future school violence ... and help kids grow into productive, healthy adults. We hope you will support our efforts. 

A Focus On Children

They are one of the Humanity Project's oldest and most loyal partners. Children's Services Council of Broward County. Just as their logo says, their focus is children. And their work helps thousands of kids all over this part of Florida. 

So today we're here to thank CSC Broward for their efforts -- and their loyalty to the Humanity Project. We recently received funding from Children's Services Council of Broward County for a major community event to be held at a local school this year. We'll tell you more about that as the date approaches. But for now, we should mention that this is the 11th consecutive year that our organization has been given important funding by their organization. We are grateful to CSC Broward, as always. The fine folks who run Children's Services Council of Broward County include their President and CEO, Cindy Arenberg Seltzer along with key staff such as Sandra Bernard-Bastien, Chief Communications Officer, and Andrew Leone, Director of Communications and Community Engagement. And too many others to name even a meaningful fraction of them. They are our friends, our partners and our sponsors. You can find them all and learn more about CSC Broward on their website:

Children's Services Council of Broward County assists a wide variety of South Florida agencies, large and small, established and new. With their funding and other assistance, we all work as a team to improve life for the kids of Broward County, Florida. For that we can only again offer a sincere thank you to everyone at CSC Broward. You are good friends indeed -- to the Humanity Project and, more importantly, to the children of Broward County. 

Why Does it Happen? How Can it Stop?

by Bob Knotts, Founder & President

Yesterday one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history happened in the school district where the Humanity Project works, day in and day out. Here in Broward County, Florida, at least 17 people were killed by a disturbed young man. I know this school -- only two years ago, I was there as part of a panel for parents about teen suicide. So today, as we look for answers to school violence, I must offer these personal thoughts.

Look around carefully and reflect on what is in front of our eyes. School shootings can’t be stopped with any quick fix. Liberals want strict gun control. Yes, it’s needed. Yes, it will prevent some deaths by guns. Conservatives call for mental health measures – and yes, better treatments are much needed. But for me, the real problems are embedded in a culture that has long celebrated anti-intellectualism and violence as a solution. Consider the recipe:

We begin with a broth of ignorance as virtue. Our culture, unlike most other modern societies, has long celebrated the John Wayne attitude toward problems: “Hit first, shoot first … ask questions later. But not very deep questions. Afterall, he had it coming.” Many Americans regard intelligent thought suspiciously, nuance as confusing, facts as fluid. Don’t muddy the waters with information that withstands critical thinking. Just do it. Punch the bully back in the face. Shoot the home intruder dead. Elect an unqualified person because he acts tough; he’ll fix things. This is America – and ignorance is our birthright. Step one in the recipe to cultural violence. 

Stir in an oversized portion of isolation. Social media doesn’t bring us together. It isolates us. We live with the illusion that Facebook brings connection and Twitter transmits knowledge. They do the opposite. So people resort to treating their dogs like children and their cats like spouses. We are alone and lonely. For the youthful screen-obsessed generations, this has greatly diluted their ability to communicate with people intelligently, if at all. Their noses are buried in trivia backlit by an Apple cellphone. This isolation has changed the culture, much for the worse. For too many reasons to offer here. But for troubled minds, the isolation from humanity and the access to warped points of view and anonymous self-expressions of hate can push some toward violence. 

Season with celebrations of ultra-violence. America always has celebrated violence. But not in the way we do today. Kids spend hours daily glued to video games that show shockingly real depictions of explosions, gun deaths and worse. These are portrayed to young minds as cool. Just as bad, so many of our major stars portray action heroes who live and die by the John Wayne mentality: “Shoot first. Don’t think. Violence always is the solution.” How can we convince children that bullying isn’t cool and that respect is cool … when all they admire shows the opposite? Being big and bad and tough, that’s cool according to Hollywood. Every time any one of us buys a ticket to see the latest shoot-em-up by The Rock or Tom Cruise or Charlize Theron we contribute to the problem. Action films make big bucks: therefore action films get made and promoted. To a troubled kid, real violence looks like glory. 

Sprinkle with sloppiness, laziness and ineptitude. American society encourages parenting that is about shallow achievements rather than healthy growth. Parents take their kids to every known form of lesson, training and camp – and spend time working on a child’s soccer technique instead of helping them understand what it is to be a human being. Kids need time, space. They need to play and pretend. What child do you know who gets these things in proper proportion? Parents in this country are horrendous at parenting. Schools aren’t much better, though many try. They’re driven by pointless testing rather than real knowledge, by rote learning rather than deep curiosity. No time for anti-bullying programs, no support for training in meditation or projects that teach respect for all people. Because, hey, our school needs to earn a better grade during state testing. Adult attitudes and adult behavior toward kids contribute to violence by those kids who suffer deeper problems. 

Finally, mix vigorously with lack of compassion. This is related to our ignorance as virtue, but actually cuts even deeper. Americans are not taught compassion or empathy. We’re taught to be wary of these virtues, replacing them with the judgmental and hard-hearted. As a result, we can’t understand why a kid would take a rifle and kill 17 innocent people. The answer is because that kid isn’t you. Or me. He grew up with very different parents and siblings and experiences. He learned very different values and beliefs. Even his genes are different. Yes, of course you can watch The Rock for 2 hours at the multiplex without being inspired to violence. Because you’re you, with all your relatively stable life experiences. To the troubled kid, the movie means something different. Americans, many people in general, suffer from the delusion that the way a fairly normal person feels about something is the way everyone feels. It isn’t. And for some, the movie and the video game and the culture of violence, the isolation and shallowness slice to their core – and then one day it all explodes suddenly to everyone’s great surprise. 

In the end, we need to learn to be human. Humanity is a species of soaring qualities, mostly untapped. Until we accept this idea and work toward the fulfillment of our humanity, the past is mere prologue … and the next shooting is only just around the block.

"Humanity Project Goes Hollywood!"

Looking For Our Closeup

The Humanity Project has gone Hollywood ... Well, let's say "Hollywood," as in kinda sorta. The truth is we created a new video that's just like a polished Hollywood-style trailer you'd see at the movies. In a clever way, it advertises the Humanity Project's work and our three core values that are part of every program we offer: respect, diversity, self-worth. Click on the linked pic just below to check it out. 

We've also posted another cool video on our YouTube channel, which you can find here: 

More and more folks are getting lots of their information and entertainment from videos. The trend seems to be accelerating. So the Humanity Project is embracing this new reality by stepping up our game. As you can see on our YouTube channel, or the Videos page here on our website, we've always gone big for videos. They can communicate with new audiences in new ways. But now -- oh definitely, you can expect to find more videos by us in the coming months, smart and engaging pieces that take our positive message to even higher heights. 

The Children's Hospital & Us

There is a very special children's hospital here in South Florida, special to the community and also special to us at the Humanity Project. It is a place where sick children go to get well. It's a place with many many dedicated physicians, nurses and healthgivers of all kinds -- and many hardworking folks behind the scenes. We are fortunate that Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital also is a good and loyal friend of the Humanity Project. In fact, JDCH just renewed their funding for our programs as they have consistently for most of our existence. Thank you, JDCH, which is part of Memorial Healthcare System!

When we think of the people who tackle the heartwrenching task of working with kids who are ill, our wonderful pal Linda Herbert comes to mind first and foremost. Oh, but she's much better known as Lotsy Dotsy the clown. 

That's her with two of us in the pic above. She is a remarkable human being who brings a deep compassion and affection for these kids to her job -- sitting on their bedside, playing, teasing, laughing, making sick boys and girls smile. Lotsy Dotsy is there for the kids and their families through their ordeals ... and manages to keep a smile on her face too. We admire her and we're proud to call Linda Herbert a colleague and a friend. But there are so many other people who work hard to make JDCH the great hospital it is, including folks like Jennifer Belyeu, Tim Curtin, Theresa Garcia, Lisa Bravo, Sharon Quinn, Milin Espino, Scott Singer ... far too many to name them all. Together they manage a heavy load of daily duties and major events too, such as the annual Tour de Broward. You can learn more about Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital at their website: ... At the Humanity Project, our trademarked slogan is, "Helping kids to help kids." Children are our business. Unfortunately, sometimes children get sick. We are honored to work alongside a place such as Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, where kids in South Florida can go to get healthy again. 

Welcoming The World

Screen capture: Humanity Project website visitors

Just take a good look at that photo above -- it's a screen capture from December 19, 2017, two days ago as we post this blog. Or glance through a similar photo below, snapped only moments ago. These are representative pics that show us something new: We now know that people from all over the world regularly and frequently visit our Humanity Project website. 

Wow, how cool is that?! India, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, China, even Syria among many other countries whose citizens visit us. 

Yes, we've long understood that our reach is broad. Of course we connect with many folks in our own area here in South Florida and all over this state as well as around the United States and Canada. We also have heard from lots of people over the years from a variety of nations around the globe. But until now, we didn't know how many other people from Asia and Europe, from South America and Oceania/Australia and Africa use this Humanity Project website. A new analytics app from our friends at Squarespace, which hosts our site, shows that humans spread throughout the planet watch our videos, read our fables and blogs and other free writings. They listen to our music and check out our podcasts. They learn from our programs. The videos and fables especially are popular. 


This is exciting news to us. We've always envisioned the Humanity Project as an organization that could enable a broad range of people to help themselves through helping others. Our kids do this by helping other kids. Our Board of Directors, Leadership Council, members, donors, volunteers, supporters, social media followers -- all gain in some way or other through applying the shared value philosophy created by Humanity Project Founder, Bob Knotts. It's an empirically based concept grounded in solid psychology, the main idea being that individuals feel better about themselves by treating everyone else with unconditional respect. You can read more about shared value at this link: Read the Shared Value essay. 

But until now, we didn't know for sure that so many diverse populations derive so much inspiration and information from our free website. 

This is all we can say to each of you who read this, to everyone who visits and gains anything of value from the Humanity Project. Thank you! Thank you so much ... and welcome! We're so glad you're here. 

Above & Beyond

Our Humanity Club at Westwood Heights Elementary School

We are very pleased. So are the kids, teachers and administrators at a struggling school. 

Before the Fall 2017 term began, the Humanity Project worked with Jodi Washington, the excellent principal of Westwood Heights Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale -- and together we developed an ambitious plan to curb the rampant bullying there and more. Our overall goal is to involve the entire student body in efforts to build an atmosphere of respect-for-all and to then bring the surrounding neighborhood into this campaign. Parents, neighbors, even gang leaders, all collaborating to make Westwood Heights a focal point of local pride. As the Fall semester ends, we can honestly report to you: "So far, so good."

The Humanity Club teaches their peers that Respect Rocks!

Despite the disruptions and delays caused by Hurricane Irma, we already have accomplished more than we had planned for this point in the year. In the top photo you see our Humanity Project Founder, Bob Knotts, along with the Humanity Club all-girl student leadership team and the wonderful faculty adviser from Westwood Heights, 4th grade teacher Tiffany McClary. In consultation with Mrs. Washington and her staff, Knotts and McClary worked intensively to teach our student leaders about respect -- what it means, why it's important, why everyone deserves it. Then we created a program that is appropriate for the entire school about respect. Finally we taught presentation skills to our girl leadership team so they could take the program to their peers. That happened on Tuesday, December 12, our Humanity Club girls promoting respect as well as gender equality by demonstrating their ability to lead boys and girls alike. The presentations were a big success, showing 665 pre-K through 5th grade kids that "Respect Rocks!" Each of those kids took a pledge to treat all other students with respect, in and out of school, for the rest of the school year. Everyone at the Humanity Project and at Westwood Heights Elementary School was gratified by the results. And our girls? They felt proud of their achievement. Very proud indeed.

Among the decorations we donated to the school, thanks to Dauerflora

In addition to all this, the Humanity Project collected some 400 much-needed backpacks for Westwood Heights in August, conducted our Anti-bullying Through The Arts program for the whole school, donated more than $13,000 worth of holiday decorations that came to us at no cost through Dauerflora, an international company that outfits seagoing vessels. And we also have arranged some holiday meals for a few Westwood Heights students and their families who otherwise might have had less-than-enough to eat over the school break. 

As 2018 begins we'll get back to work finding effective ways to implement the overall plan for Westwood Heights and the surrounding neighborhood. We are grateful to Mrs. Washington, her staff and kids, especially Ms. McClary and the girls of our Humanity Club, for the opportunities they have given us to help this school. We believe the best is yet to come. 

Season Of Sharing

By Bob Knotts, Founder & President

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We don't believe in giving at the Humanity Project. Surprising to you, perhaps? But wait ... You'll see what we mean. We believe in sharing. There's a big difference. 

When sharing, we gain by giving. We take something we have and spread it around to others who can use it too. It may be knowledge or experience. It may be our talent or some possession. It may even be money. But by sharing rather than giving, an individual becomes more through the generosity, not less. The act of sharing acknowledges our relationship with other human beings for what it is: a deep and meaningful interconnection that requires us to help people. When we genuinely try to aid our fellow humans, we are rewarded with feelings of satisfaction, empathy, joy. We feel fulfilled because we indeed are fulfilled by this change in perspective -- sharing as a way of being rather than giving as something we do now and then. To understand this is to recognize that living for "me" alone doesn't work. Taking, taking, taking all the time, with occasional "giving back" mixed in among the taking. That's the attitude most of us have. 

At the Humanity Project we think there's a better way, a system that I created and named "shared value." You can read more about it at this link: Read the "Shared Value" essay. This message seems especially appropriate as we enter the holidays, which often offer a good period to reflect on the direction our life is heading. If more of us can see that making an effort to help others really helps us too, the concept of shared value can have an increasing influence. To take and to give are self-centered ideas, all about my behavior as an individual. To share... this is something else. Sharing what we have and who we are with others proves to us that Ralph Waldo Emerson was right, as usual: “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” 

Welcoming Two New Board Members

Natalia and Simone: New Humanity Project Board members

Today we are extremely pleased to introduce two new Humanity Project Board of Directors members. Simone Finnis and her daughter, Natalia Finnis-Smart, become our latest vice presidents. And Natalia now is the Humanity Project's second student to become part of our official governing body. 

If their names and faces seem familiar, there's a reason for that. Both have been part of our Leadership Council for the past year and a half. They contributed so much to this organization that we asked them to take on more formal roles. They're amazing folks. Simone is a licensed family and marriage therapist. Natalia is a high school senior and past member of Youth Leadership Broward. Each is a passionate community activist. When there's work to be done at the Humanity Project, when there's someone to help or an event to attend, we can count on these two women to be there for us. Actually, both were at the Humanity Project's huge 2008 anti-bullying march in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the nation's first mass children's march against bullying. More than 2,100 people attended that event. These days, Natalia helps to present many of our I Care Live teen/parent driver safety workshops. 

For the first time, the Humanity Project Board of Directors boasts more women than men. As our nonprofit works toward a goal of respect for all in society, we think this is a positive change. We also are strengthening our Leadership Council, recently adding Fernando M. Perez and his daughter, Valentina, to that body. Fernando is an associate professor of sociology and criminology at Barry University. Valentina has served in student government and is an avid reader and ballet dancer. And the Rev. Dr. Keith Spencer also joined our council not long ago, taking over for his wife, Piper Spencer, who moved up to our board. Keith serves with his talented son, Christian. 

Fernando and Valentina of our Leadership Council

Keith and Christian, Leadership Council members

To all of these good folks, thank you. And welcome! You are an important part of the reason the Humanity Project is helping more kids than ever before in ways that make our world a bit more respectful. 

A Busy Humanity

We'll be brief today. The photos tell this story better than the words.

Our Humanity Club at Westwood Heights Elementary School, Fort Lauderdale

The Humanity Project is reaching record numbers of kids this fall semester. That's our message in a nutshell. Our Anti-bullying Through The Arts is on a blistering pace. Our Humanity Club is working with all-girl student leaders on the values of respect, diversity and self-worth, aiming toward a schoolwide presentation late this autumn by these girls. Their goal: to teach the same values to all students at Westwood Heights Elementary School -- and help stop the bullying that is such a problem there.

Anti-bullying Through The Arts

Our I Care Live teen driver safety program also is in full swing, reaching many teens and parents with an innovative message about safe driving and respect on the roads. 

I Care Live

In just the past seven days, we held two anti-bullying presentations, two I Care Live events and our weekly Humanity Club.

None of this would happen without our generous community-minded sponsors, who provide the necessary funding for us to connect with so many young people. These loyal Humanity Project supporters include State Farm, Our Fund, Lucky's Market, Children's Services Council of Broward County, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Gay & Lesbian Lawyers Network, ELE USAL Florida, Google and many others. We can't thank them enough -- and we know our kids and their parents and schools also are deeply grateful. 

Having fun as we help ...

The Humanity Project is busy indeed this Fall 2017. A good kind of busy, doing the things we should be doing. We are busy helping our fellow human beings. 

Thank you, Stephanie!

The amazing Stephanie Wong

By Bob Knotts, Founder & President

I offer a personal blog today with very mixed emotions. Both gladness and sadness. Gladness because the wonderful young woman named Stephanie Wong is moving on to new adventures in life. Sadness because, well, Stephanie is moving on -- of necessity. And I can't tell you how much I regret seeing her leave our Board of Directors. 

In the Humanity Project's 12-year existence I've never once posted a word when any board member had to resign for whatever reason. Usually these good folks left because they didn't have the time to devote to our work and felt they were letting down other board members. But it always seemed best to let them slip away from our organization with as little fuss as possible ... and with our gratitude for their efforts. 

It's different with Stephanie. More than two years ago she joined as our very first student member of the board. Since then she helped create our now-thriving Humanity Club program and completely redesigned our website. Wow ... The look of this very modern, very lovely website is all her work, completed over a full year. As you can see with a few clicks, the Humanity Project has an unusually large and content-heavy main website that's linked to two other Humanity Project websites we created for young people: and The task of redesigning was enormous. You can see the results for yourself, all carried out with Stephanie's typical commitment, hard work, good humor and intelligence ... at no cost to the Humanity Project. 

Wow, again. 

Now Stephanie is no longer a student. Her title is Program Director, TRIO Educational Opportunity Center at Miami-Dade College - InterAmerican Campus. She lives in Miami-Dade County, a lengthy traffic-choked drive from the Humanity Project headquarters in Broward County, Florida where much of our hands-on work in the schools takes place. And before long, Stephanie will tackle graduate school, likely out of state. Reluctantly I agreed with her decision that it was time to leave us. 

I asked Stephanie for a brief comment to include in this blog. As usual, she went above and beyond. These are her remarks about the Humanity Project: "I couldn’t be more grateful to have served alongside such an experienced and dedicated Board of local leaders. The team behind the Humanity Project truly embodies its core values of diversity and respect for all as each program is uniquely designed to support youth development, with inclusivity and a deeper understanding of characterized differences as its focus. During my time as Board Member, I was given the opportunity to work with middle and high school students directly. Whether the students were from South Florida or the Caribbean, I was able to impart the Humanity Project values through arts-based programming and by taking our THP4Kids program from an online format to a person-to-person model. Not only was I able to experience the unique approach the Humanity Project brought to the communities we serve, I also was allowed to learn about the ways that I may continue to develop as a member of our shared human experience. The Humanity Project also permitted me to take on the challenge of redesigning our organization’s website and bringing it to a mobile-friendly platform. This lets us share our programs with a wider audience. At every step of the way, I have been allowed to imagine, create and implement for the benefit of our local and global community. If there is one key take away that I have learned during my time with my friends at THP, it has been that no matter what we do or how we feel in life, we are always stronger together with unity at the fore. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service."

No, Stephanie. Thank you!

We love you! 

Technology vs. Nature: Why Outdoor Activities are Essential for Kids

By Hilary Smith

(Editor’s Note: This blog was written especially for the Humanity Project by Hilary Smith, who writes about the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 10, and lives in Chicago.)

Gone are the days of being sent outside to play in the morning and staying outdoors exploring with friends until dinner time. School recesses have been greatly minimized or eliminated completely. Child obesity rates are through the roof, with interpersonal and communication skills on the decline. Too often children are glued to the TV, mesmerized by their iPads or tuned out with a multitude of other electronic devices. While technology provides today’s children with many benefits and learning advantages, it also can pose some hindrances to their overall development as well-rounded individuals if it consumes too much of their time and attention. But parents can find a perfect blend of technology and outdoor play by using the “everything in moderation” concept.

Playing outside and exploring nature have been proven to reap many benefits for children. The most obvious of these is the positive impact on physical development. Running, jumping, swinging and all other kinds of outdoor physical play help develop motor skills, improve balance and coordination, increase flexibility and develop muscle strength. All of these benefits have a powerful effect on developing a healthy self-confidence and positive self image.

The wellness benefits of playing outside go beyond just the physical aspects. For example, interacting with other children at the park promotes social skills and cooperation. Learning to take turns, playing games or creating imaginative outdoor activities together encourages friendships and healthy relationships. Spending time in the garden with Mom and Dad creates powerful bonding and lasting memories, all while learning about healthy eating, caring for other living things and providing countless opportunities for teachable moments. Being outdoors also increases Vitamin D intake, essential for bone strength and effective for preventing diabetes and heart disease. Physical activity reduces stress and burns energy, which have been shown to increase attention spans and allow children to focus better when they are indoors in a learning environment.

All that being said, technology and nature can peacefully coexist. For the child who never wants to be disconnected, parents may consider bringing the technology outside. This can simply involve sitting on a blanket in the yard while playing online instead of indoors in an artificially lighted room. Or perhaps the cellphone or digital camera can be used to capture pictures or video of your outdoor adventures. For the child who lacks interest in the great outdoors, make it more desirable by tying the outdoor world to technology. Create an electronic journal of your excursions. Or use the Internet to help plan your next big outdoor adventure. Research the national parks in your region as well as water parks, local fishing areas or farms with pick-your-own opportunities. Get creative. You can find methods to blend these two very different ways for kids to learn, grow and explore. Providing a healthy balance of outdoor play and exercise with reasonable screen time is a great way for them to gain the benefits of both. Set limits on the amount of time allowed using TV, the Internet and online games. Mix this with plenty of sunshine and outdoor time to provide a well-rounded, balanced learning environment for your child.