Co-authored by Maya Enista Smith, Executive Director of Born This Way Foundation
Whether during coverage of tragic events or just the average morning newspaper, our country often seems awash in bad news. From political squabbles and the state of the economy to the latest crime statistics, most press stories leave little room for optimism or hope. Even when it comes to reporting about young people, the media seems more interested in what is - or might be - going wrong. From their addiction" to smartphones to the "deeply disturbing rates of self-harming behavior, the stories the media tell about youth often leave the impression that we should worry for them or worry about them.
What gets lost in this maelstrom of negative and alarming news is all of the tremendous good that is happening in cities and towns across the country. We seem certain to hear about a robbery or assault down the street, but never see the story about the many acts of kindness, compassion, and acceptance - big and small - that are just as revealing about our communities.
At Born This Way Foundation, we have to look no further than our own Youth Advisory Board to see ample evidence of the positive change that happens with little notice every day. There's Daniella who co-founded a project called GIVE that installs internet, films educational videos, and sends computers and other items to schools in India, Uganda, and Rwanda. Then there's Chris, who founded a national anti-bullying nonprofit called It Ends Today, and Adejire who has been a youth advocate in her community for over 15 years. These young men and women have dedicated their time to doing amazing things to promote kindness and bravery, but those are the sorts of stories that tend to get overlooked or overshadowed in our current media environment.
That is why we are thrilled to announce the launch of Channel Kindness, a new project dedicated to amplifying kindness and bravery. Through Channel Kindness, we will identify, train and equip a corps of 50 youth reporters in communities across the country to train their eyes, ears and hearts to find, recognize and report the examples of kindness that fill our daily lives.
The goal of our new program is simple; to channel kindness. The stories of kindness, compassion and bravery will be told on a new platform, www.ChannelKindness.org, and shared across the Foundation's social channels and by our partners. Our hope is that the narrative of an engaged, empowered, collaborative, and compassionate generation and society will outweigh the divisive, depressing, sensationalist stories that tend to dominate our attention.
But we need your help. We are looking for kind and compassionate young people who will join us to Channel Kindness. If you are a young person between the ages of 16 - 24, please apply here and if you know a passionate young person with a story to tell, please nominate them here. We need to come together to spread the word about kindness and bravery and focus on what is good in the world.
We are not naïve, we know that our country is facing crises on many levels, but we also know that in order to stand together to overcome these obstacles we must not only believe but prove that the good outweighs the bad, that our strength outweighs our weakness, and that love outweighs hate.
We hope that you take the time today to think about how you will channel kindness in your own community. We need to read the signs, hear the words, and watch the actions of people asking for kindness and support and do our part to make the world a kinder and braver place.