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."
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.
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.