Humanity Club

You Are Stardust

Hubble telescope image courtesy of NASA

How do you teach a young child concepts such as the importance of respect for every individual, the value of diversity and the need for self-worth? Ideas that even many adults couldn’t explain clearly …

At the Humanity Project, we teach through play: videos, music, games, roleplaying and more. Art inspires the emotion that helps concepts to stick in the mind. One of our arts-based ideas for teaching also is science-based. We show kids that among the many reasons each person deserves respect is this amazing fact: Most of the materials inside every human being are formed from stardust. Literally. Science knows that elements such as carbon, oxygen, iron and nearly everything else that makes up you and all of us can only be manufactured by the extreme temperatures created within stars.

That’s an extraordinary notion to learn — for kids and adults both. And so we suggest you check out our latest video, just posted on the Humanity Project YouTube channel. It is called simply, “You Are Stardust.” Watch the video!

It’s short, it’s engaging, it’s factual … and offers us one more way to connect with kids. It was made with help from our Humanity Club girls at Morrow Elementary, many of them appearing in the video. And now they will help us bring the video and a short talk about this topic to every student in their school, classroom by classroom. The goal is to encourage the entire student body to treat everyone in school with respect, part of our year-long Humanity Club project at Morrow. Kids teaching kids, kids helping kids … That’s what we do at the Humanity Project.

New Members Of Our Team

Welcome to the Humanity Project, Sasha Medvinsky and Victoria!

Meet our newest Leadership Council parent-child team.

Sasha was born and raised in Ukraine, leaving for Florida in 1992. She’s a registered nurse who manages Outpatient Services in the Pediatric Ambulatory Department of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Her daughter, Victoria, is an honor roll student and a recognized leader in her school, often fundraising for causes that help children in need.

Of course, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is a longtime sponsor of the Humanity Project. So we think Sasha’s involvement with the Humanity Project seems especially appropriate.

Our Leadership Council was formed several years ago to serve as an in-house consulting and creative group of parents who partner with their child, collectively offering guidance to make sure our programs become even more kid-friendly and parent-friendly too. Since then we’ve added key new members to that team. We know Sasha and Victoria will bring their experience and talents to our work now — and we’re grateful.

We think of the Humanity Project as a family: not only our Board of Directors and Leadership Council but also our great volunteers and the many students and teachers and administrators who work with us closely. Together, we help kids to help kids. Together, we really do make a difference.

UNICEF Report: School Bullying Is Rampant Worldwide

Bullying is worse, not better. But there is hope. 

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, just released a major report on childhood bullying worldwide. It found that about half of children ages 13 to 15 throughout the globe say they have experienced peer-to-peer violence in and around school. That's 150 million kids. As one UNICEF official who contributed to the report said, "Schools are not as safe as they should be because of bullying, because of corporal punishment by teachers, because of attacks on schools." The report adds that the estimated monetary cost of violence against children in all countries is $7 trillion.

However, the same UNICEF official noted that more children are speaking out against bullying and more teachers are being trained to deal with it. "We have reasons to be optimistic that violence will be recognized as a problem in schools and addressed soon," she said. Self-reported peer violence stands at around 50% in most of the nations studied -- with the U.S. rate slightly lower at 48%. The report is based on data from 122 countries, which are home to 51% of the world's population of children ages 13 to 15.

At the Humanity Project, we see this major report as more proof of the need for increased efforts of all kinds to stop school bullying. We have sensed a growing misunderstanding of the issue in the United States in recent months, a feeling that the serious problem of school bullying is less common now than before. Some folks seem to feel we've won that war. In fact, school bullying is more common today, according to U.S.-based studies and anecdotal reports. These include recent discussions by Humanity Project officials with school administrators, teachers and counselors. LGBTQ students are among the most frequent targets, a school population that is disproportionately bullied. The Southern Poverty Law Center says research consistently shows that “virtually every LGBT student experiences bullying at school.”

The Humanity Project's acclaimed Antibullying Through The Arts and Humanity Club programs have been shown to be effective in helping to curb school bullying -- but in the past several months, we have received somewhat less funding than in 2017 to deliver these free programs to schools and organizations that need them. In light of the new UNICEF report, we are hopeful these funds will be restored soon as more people recognize that bullying hasn't ended in the schools. And that our work as a society to stop school bullying is far, far from over. 

Our Fund: A Cause For Hope

Some hope is much needed at the moment. Many days the world can appear in utter chaos. And here at home our nation struggles with deep political divisions: we witness attacks on LGBTQ rights, we watch authorities separating children from immigrant parents, we hear politicians raising serious doubts about news accounts that are highly accurate. And much more. It's easy to wonder if there are as many good people as in the past, the folks who are truly focused on making our society more compassionate and just. 

There are. That's the good news -- and yes, you can believe us.

A case in point is the amazing LGBTQ community foundation, Our Fund. This fine organization works daily to get adequate funding for important causes that benefit the LGBTQ community. These causes include the Humanity Project. Our Antibullying Through The Arts and Humanity Club programs directly help LGBTQ youth by preventing bullying in and out of school. You see, LGBTQ youth are disproportionately bullied, far more as a group than most other populations of kids. And this emotional and physical violence has an enormous effect on those children later in life, as studies repeatedly have shown. 

Our Fund's great CEO, David Jobin, and his talented team are working with the Humanity Project to help change this situation, improving life for many LGBTQ youth. Indeed Our Fund is among the Humanity Project's major sponsors and just renewed its commitment to our kids through a generous new grant. We are deeply grateful! Because we cooperate so closely with Our Fund we know how dedicated this community foundation is to causes that matter, finding significant financial support for those causes from people who care about a better world. We are, as always, honored to be part of the Our Fund family -- a remarkable group of agencies, staffers, volunteers and philanthropists. We hope you may consider joining all of us. Our Fund is, truly, a cause for hope. 

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: www.cscbroward.org

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. 

Thank you, New River Orchestra

A big thank you today to the New River Orchestra, a South Florida organization of musicians who donate their time for charity concerts. NRO held a lovely event for the Humanity Project last Saturday, July 29, rewarding concertgoers with a delightful pops program of both classics and lighter favorites. This benefit for the Humanity Project also featured the St. Clements Children's Choir, a group of young people with Haitian roots, and it was hosted by the United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale. We can't thank all these wonderful folks enough. 

The New River Orchestra and St. Clements Children's Choir

Through this fundraiser, New River Orchestra becomes an official Humanity Project sponsor -- and we welcome them to the distinguished roster of our supporters. You'll find the full list on our Sponsors page: Visit the Humanity Project Sponsors page. So another round of applause, please, for NRO as they become part of the Humanity Project family. We are grateful. 

Classics & Kids

We have something very special to announce, a first-ever event of this type by the Humanity Project. And we're calling it, "Classics & Kids: A Musical Performance for the Humanity Project." If you're in South Florida during late July this year, you won't want to miss it. 

Classics & Kids will feature a Haitian children's choir and a full symphony orchestra in a delightful summery pops concert to benefit the Humanity Project. Proceeds will go to our programs for kids including our Anti-bullying Through The Arts, Humanity Club and I Care teen driver safety programs. The New River Orchestra will be joined by the St. Clements Children's Choir for works by Holst, Moussorgsky, Strauss, Rossini and others as well as pieces by Henry Mancini and selections from Pirates of the Caribbean. What fun on a warm afternoon. 

Tickets are only $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Mark your calendar for July 29 from 4-6 p.m. at the United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale, our friends who are hosting the event for us. You can buy tickets safely online through Eventbrite, the respected Internet ticket agency. Here's the link to find out more about our concert: Visit the Humanity Project ticket site for more info and to buy tickets!

We're very excited by this fundraiser ... and we hope that many of you will want to join us. Classics & Kids on a languid South Florida weekend afternoon -- who could ask for anything more? 

 

Our Fund: Making A Difference

By Bob Knotts, Humanity Project Founder

I wanted to offer a more personal blog to our readers today. It's about bullying, about disrespect as a social issue ... and about an important partner that helps the Humanity Project to diminish these problems. 

Our Fund is an LGBT community foundation based in Wilton Manors, Florida, one of the nation's premier LGBT-friendly cities. This extraordinary organization has just partnered with the Humanity Project for a second consecutive year in our continuing efforts to stem school bullying and to encourage greater respect among both students and adults, whether in school or out in the world. Toward that end, Our Fund has awarded the Humanity Project $10,000 for 2017, part of $106,000 handed out to many fine nonprofits at a special presentation this week. We can't thank Our Fund enough for this assistance. 

At the Our Fund 2017 Spring check presentation, New River Fine Art Gallery

At the Our Fund 2017 Spring check presentation, New River Fine Art Gallery

Because we take this sponsorship money, and this cause, very seriously. At a time when bullying is on the rise again, in a period of history when disrespect is rampant in our society and right-wing ideas are regaining traction among a broad swath of people around the world, effective and innovative anti-bullying programs are more necessary than ever. Bullying, disrespectful behavior of all kinds -- they leave scars on children's psyches that never go away. The LGBT community is disproportionately affected by this problem. So Humanity Project programs do more than simply fight bullying. They also teach respect for all, the importance of diversity and the value of self-worth to young students, helping them to appreciate the humanity of every person.

And this is where a more personal story comes in. As a child, I was bullied in ways that I feel to this day. I was harassed, hit, humiliated ... and harmed emotionally. I felt alone. I felt something was wrong with me. I liked the other kids, so why didn't they all like me? I couldn't understand and, not understanding, I blamed myself. Remember, this was long before cyberbullying, decades before weapons in school became sadly common. It is much worse today. As a result of my childhood trauma, I carry personal experience with the pain of bullying and disrespect by my peers. These memories help to motivate me to fight ever harder, with even more innovative and effective methods, as the Humanity Project works with Our Fund to help build a more respectful society. I know the entire Humanity Project Board of Directors, Leadership Council and our volunteers feel the same way. We are committed to doing all we can to make sure every child feels he or she is valuable. In that work, we couldn't ask for a better partner than our remarkable friends at Our Fund. 

Of Kindness and Kids

POSTED BY: BOB KNOTTS

I was struck by a remark from President Barack Obama just the other evening. And I found it very relevant to the work we’re doing here at the Humanity Project. In a town hall meeting, the president asked a question: “How do we make sure kids are treated with kindness?”

The Humanity Project is one of the many fine organizations worldwide that work to answer this important question.

The Humanity Project is one of the many fine organizations worldwide that work to answer this important question. Our Anti-bullying Through The Arts program and our website for socially isolated teens at www.thp4kids.com, our Humanity Club program for middle school children … these are among the key ways our Florida-based nonprofit helps kids to teach respect among their peers. The Humanity Project builds an environment in and out of school that offers more kindness, less abuse. We help kids to help other kids stop bullying. We offer special peer-created guidance for LGBT teens at that thp4kids website. We work with middle school student leaders in our Humanity Club to help fellow students understand the importance of diversity, self-value and respect among everyone in the school.

And of course, this translates to an atmosphere of greater understanding … and kindness.

We applaud President Obama’s interest in the future of our children. He has many times shown during his tenure that he cares about creating a nation and a world of healthier kids – young people who are healthier psychologically as well as physically. At the Humanity Project, we will continue to do all we can month in and month out to assist in this profound effort.