Your Help Really Helps

When you have a moment, stop to think about this, please: If you knew for certain something you said or did actually helped another person, would you do it? Probably the answer is yes -- especially since you're reading this on a website created by an organization called the Humanity Project. You're already interested in making the world better. If not, you probably wouldn't be looking at this post. But here's my point. I've slowly realized over the years that I sometimes don't say or do things that could be helpful to others ... only because I don't truly believe those things will help. It's lack of confidence in my ability to be useful. This feeling has prevented me on many occasions from offering a compliment, grabbing something off a tall grocery shelf, even just smiling when I didn't feel the other person would respond.

And I think this same misunderstanding holds back lots of us from showing more respect and kindness in daily life. And from doing more to help other people. From our perspective, the words or actions seem so small. At the giving end, we don't believe we'll make anything better. But from the other person's perspective, it all looks different. At the receiving end, that compliment, that helping hand, that smile may mean a lot. And may be remembered for a long while.

In your own life, how many times has a sincere and unexpected compliment really touched you? Have there been moments when someone's unsolicited help gave your attitude a lift? When another person smiled in a way that made your day? I'll bet you know what I mean. To them, maybe, it seemed no big deal. To you it was a very big deal. We need to find faith in our own powers to help others, I believe -- in these small ways, but in larger ways too. For instance, many folks don't volunteer because, well, they probably won't really accomplish anything. Who would want their assistance, guidance, advice? I am convinced that our genuine efforts to help others really do make a meaningful difference in their lives. If we're doing it for the applause, then perhaps this self-centered attitude will dilute our words or actions. But if we honestly want to contribute something positive to the world, the world will take notice.

I Care! Live!

The Humanity Project's unique and acclaimed driver safety program is going live! Our I Care program for teen drivers and their parents will kick off this winter with free workshops. We're calling these sessions, appropriately, "I Care! Live!"

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Our great major sponsor, State Farm, has made I Care! Live! possible through their loyal financial support for the Humanity Project. We plan to begin the free workshops soon and we hope to increase the number of these presentations to the community in the coming months.

Like our other I Care materials for teens and parents, I Care! Live! avoids scare tactics, which research tells us don't work. Instead we'll use humor, interactive games, videos and more to teach parents an important reality: They are the most important driving instructor for their kids. Studies prove that youngsters learn about proper driving from their parents more than anyone else. This means parents must practice what they preach, driving without distractions, without impairment, without dangerous motoring of any kind. It's really all about respect on our highways -- respect for the lives of others and your own life. If you're in South Florida, you can schedule one of these workshops for small groups of parents -- say, 30 or fewer. Just contact us for details.

Kids Show Respect -- Watch Them!

 

Sometimes the best way to understand what's happening is to see it with your own eyes. So today we offer a brief but uplifting video for you, a montage of pictures and video clips taken at our first Respect Rocks event. The music is an original Humanity Project street chant we created for Respect Rocks. If you don't yet know about our Respect Rocks campaign, the video will give you the basic idea -- kids asking adults to make a better world. Take a look for yourself ... and please, join our campaign. Just email us to ask how.

More Than Skin Deep

Dr. David Sharaf is one of the finest doctors I know. I've been his patient for more than 20 years. But he's also a caring member of the community who supports the work of the Humanity Project -- and that's why we're talking about him again today. Dr. Sharaf is a skilled and highly experienced dermatologist who works with Skin and Cancer Associates/Center for Cosmetic Enhancement. Visit Dr. Sharaf's web page.

He's found and removed more moles, skin tags and other oddities from my skin than I prefer to admit. But with his efforts, I've managed to keep my fair skin relatively healthy despite almost 28 years of living in the harsh South Florida sun.

And when I asked him to sponsor my then-young nonprofit organization, he immediately agreed. No hesitation, no questions. Just, "Sure!" Dr. Sharaf and Skin and Cancer Associates/Center for Cosmetic Enhancement have been with us ever since. To me, well ... what else do any of us want in a physician? We want our doctors to have much experience, detailed knowledge as well as expert diagnostic and treatment skills. Dr. David Sharaf surely has all that. But we also want our doctors to be caring human beings who understand we're not merely flesh and bone and blood. Dr. Sharaf has that quality too. And so today, everyone at the Humanity Project once more offers our sincere thanks to this fine partner. And we hope you may consider making Dr. Sharaf your dermatologist whenever you next need medical treatment for your skin. We think you'll be pleased with the results.

 

Respect ... Given For Free

We did it. On Saturday, January 14, we held our first Respect Rocks event. It was a hit! The Humanity Project and friends from SunServe and other organizations took over a corner of downtown Fort Lauderdale to pass out smiles ... and respect. Look at the pictures for yourself. Our kids held up the Humanity Project's original "Smile!" signs, asking passing adults to smile at them. Most adults did smile back -- and were rewarded with a free "Respect Rocks!" bracelet and a card that asked adults to treat each other with respect. The event's main idea was simple: kids were urging adults to help make a better world for all children. We passed out more than 300 free bracelets and another 300 or so cards. And nearly every adult who was greeted by our kids seemed charmed.

Our Respect Rocks campaign is sponsored by Our Fund and we already are attracting partner nonprofits such as SunServe and HANDY that want to take part as we continue this unique effort. Among all the disrespect, divisiveness and plain nastiness in our society, we believe kids just might start a trend that could catch on in other places. And encourage hundreds of adults to think about their own behavior. Yes, please do check out the few photos we've posted here. And let us know if you'd like to join us or even bring Respect Rocks to your community.

Announcing "Respect Rocks!"

What would happen if kids asked adults to do better? To make a saner, safer world? To treat each other with respect ... and to begin with a simple smile? That's the idea behind Respect Rocks, a new campaign by the Humanity Project. Starting in January, children from the Humanity Project and partner organizations will take to the streets in a charming effort to encourage a more respectful society. The Respect Rocks campaign is sponsored by our good friends at Our Fund, an LGBT community foundation in South Florida.

This is not a new Humanity Project program. We already have several wonderfully effective programs that help kids to help kids (and sometimes parents), including Anti-bullying Through The Arts, I Care teen driver safety program, thp4kids.com and our new Humanity Club. Instead, Respect Rocks is an expression of the Humanity Project's core values that are the underpinning for every program we have and everything else we do: the importance of respect for all, diversity and self-value.

It's no coincidence that our Respect Rocks campaign will begin over the MLK Day weekend and a week before the inauguration. It is a loving and non-political response to the rampant disrespect that was so evident during the 2016 election as well as throughout our society -- in social media, in books, among TV pundits and political columnists.

Respect Rocks will kick off at Gulfstream Academy in Hallandale Beach, Florida, when our Humanity Club student leaders will take their message of respect, diversity and self-value to all of their middle school peers. Each student who signs a pledge to treat all other students with respect will get one of our cool Respect Rocks bracelets. Then on January 14, our kids take to the downtown Fort Lauderdale streets. They'll hold up signs with our Respect Rocks "Smile" logo, designed by Christian Piper of our Leadership Council. Our kids will shout out to passing adults, "Smile! Smile at us!" Those who do will be given a Respect Rocks bracelet and a card that reads: "Living in a disrespectful society, we're kids asking all adults to do much better! A smile = respect. Respect Rocks! Please help make a better world for us kids!"

We think it's such a disarming and simple approach that this campaign may just catch on. We hope the media will want to cover our effort and that social media friends can spread the word -- and even consider bringing Respect Rocks to their community. At the Humanity Project, we know we can't change the whole world ... but we can help improve at least part of it. And since adults have been doing so badly at running the world lately, maybe children can inspire change in a way grownups can't. We think so. And we hope you'll join our campaign.

Serious Team ... Having Fun

Sometimes it's important to know the faces behind an organization -- especially to get a feeling for the people who claim to help others through their charitable work. So today we offer some of the beautiful faces and beautiful people behind the work of the Humanity Project. Take a look at these seriously committed folks ... having some unserious fun at our annual Holiday Party for our Board of Directors and our new Leadership Council. These photos were taken by Keith Spencer, a pastor as well as the husband and father of one of our Leadership Council parent/child teams. We hope you'll enjoy sharing these moments with us. Happy Holidays to all!

Happiest Of Holidays To You & Yours

From everyone at the Humanity Project, we wish you a joyful and healthy holiday season. And we hope you'll take a moment now and then to relax, take a few calm breaths and just savor this lovely time of year. Yes, we are living in a challenging, too often violent, period of human history. But it's easy to get caught up in the headlines and forget that right outside our windows, most things look pretty good... and we are fortunate for that. Most of us live in peace. Most of us have a place to sleep, enough food, safe water. And if we are very fortunate, we have friends or family to share it all with. So we say, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa -- and we hope your holiday is bright indeed.

Listen & Learn

This will be a very brief post today ... because we'd rather have you listen than read right now.

We have a new podcast that features a distinguished school for language ... and our newest sponsor: ELE USAL Florida, affiliated with the University of Salamanca in Spain. The University of Salamanca is the world's third oldest university, the school of such distinguished alumni as Cervantes and Cortes and still respected around the world.

The US affiliate, ELE USAL Florida, teaches Spanish language and Hispanic culture to all ages, kids to seniors. We hope you'll surf over to our Podcast page on this website to hear our interview with Rosane Santana, owner of the new United States affiliate. To do that, just look under Resources on our Menu. Or go directly to www.thehumanityproject.com/podcast. We think you'll enjoy the program.

Wow! And A Big Thank You!

If you're an old Humanity Project friend, you've visited our website many many times. And now you see that things have changed for the better at our online home!

Yes indeed, we have a completely redesigned website thanks to a very special person: Humanity Project Board Vice President Stephanie Wong. Stephanie joined the Humanity Project as our first student Board member, then graduated from college, went into the working world -- and began making a huge difference in our efforts at "helping kids to help kids." First she created a template for our Humanity Club program, allowing us to clearly show schools in advance just what we had in mind for their students.

And now ... all this, a gorgeous website redesign. So far we've had only positive comments about our new site. Everyone at the Humanity Project loves it! Stephanie spent nearly a year working on our very large, very content-heavy website to give us a look that was modern and easier for you to navigate. We can't thank her enough. Please enjoy exploring and sharing the new improved Humanity Project website.

Being young, disabled and LGBT

POSTED BY: ALEX DIAZ-GRANADOS

(Editor’s Note: This blog was written especially for the Humanity Project by Alex Diaz-Granados, an activist who lives with cerebral palsy. Through his work with Cerebral Palsy Guidance, he works to bring awareness to issues related to bullying and LGBT rights.)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) young people face a greater risk of being bullied, as do children with disabilities like cerebral palsy. According to surveys, as many as 81 percent of LGBT students have been bullied, while the numbers for disabled children are as high as 60 percent. For children and young adults with cerebral palsy and who identify or are perceived as LGBT, bullying is a real concern.

How Bullies Target Victims

Bullying refers to persistent, unwanted harassment or intimidation. There is typically a power imbalance between the bully and the victim, with the bully using greater size and strength, or some other factor to intimidate a victim repeatedly. Bullies tend to target their peers who seem powerless, unable or unwilling to fight back as well as those who seem different.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects muscles and movement. For this reason, children with the condition do appear different. They move differently and some may even be unable to walk. Children who identify as LGBT are also perceived as different and for someone living with cerebral palsy and identifying as LGBT, the differences and weaknesses may be doubled in the eyes of a bully.

The Impacts of Bullying

Being disabled and LGBT puts a child in a position of being vulnerable to bullying and it is an issue that needs to be taken seriously because of the consequences. Students who are bullied suffer academically. They miss more school, get lower grades and are more likely to drop out before graduating. They are also less likely to be included in activities and social events.

Victims of bullying are vulnerable to mental health consequences. They are more likely to experience depression, more likely to have attempted suicide. For those bullying victims who have cerebral palsy and are LGBT, the consequences may be even more severe. These children may feel that they have even less power and fewer options for support.

Support for Disabled LGBT Students

Social support for these children is crucial because it provides a network that offers a safe place, others who share the same challenges and, most importantly, friends. Children of all abilities, gender identities and sexuality benefit from strong support from friends and others. This support gives a child confidence, resilience and strength. For those children living with disabilities and identifying as LGBT, there are numerous support groups. Adults who care for these children should help them and encourage them to seek out these groups to make friends, to build strong social bonds, and to cope with the victimization of bullying.

Support is available through www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com. The Humanity Project’s website for socially isolated teens is another valuable resource at www.thp4kids.com.