Being Kind Is Kool

What does your child want for the holidays?

Some ask for the hottest video games. Some want the latest clothes.

Others just want to go a day without being teased.

To help achieve that goal, this week all 5 Westport elementary schools have celebrated Kool To Be Kind.

Bullying is so uncool.

Bullying is so uncool.

K2BK — as its koolly called — is an anti-bullying program created by 4 Westport women. Staples High School students are trained to lead interactive lessons about empathy, kindness and handling tough situations.  Over 100 Stapleites — split into teams — now work with 3rd graders in every school, 5 times a year.

They introduce concepts like “allies, bystanders, targets and bullies,” and probe issues like why “kool” can be a synonym for “mean.” Teachers and 50 parent volunteers — working with pre- and post-lesson plans, and supplemental reading — help the program run smoothly.

Long Lots student Jackie Zinn nailed it. She said she liked K2BK because it showed her how to “stand up for kids and what ways I can help make a better community.”

A trusting circle of K2BK high school students, 3rd graders, teachers and parents.

A trusting circle of K2BK high school students, 3rd graders, teachers and parents.

But 3rd graders are not the only ones learning about empathy. Staples students say they now see their peers and entire school experience through different lenses.

“K2BK has made me more aware that even little actions can greatly impact someone’s life. It’s up to me to decide whether that impact is positive or negative,” says Staples senior Sami Bautista.

“Of all the activities I do, K2BK is hands down the most rewarding and powerful experience,” adds senior Michaela MacDonald. “It has helped me grow into a much stronger, kinder, more courageous person. Thanks to K2BK, I feel more comfortable being who I am.”

In addition, teachers create their own projects in between sessions. Parent volunteers bring the lessons home to their children.

Kool To Be Kind logoAnd a townwide scavenger hunt — in which 3rd graders follow clues to various merchants, and learn how each business is “kind” and “pays it forward” around town and beyond — has involved countless people beyond the schools.

Clearly, Kool To Be Kind has impacted lives, and changed behaviors. Now, if we can just spread the idea that bullying isn’t cool to Westport drivers.

And, ahem, a couple of “06880” commenters…

7 responses to “Being Kind Is Kool

  1. i watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas the other day. Talk about bullying! Those girls were RUTHLESS. Hopefully, we’ll all have our Linuses… loyal, lifelong friends.

  2. Estelle T. Margolis

    Thanks for this column, Dan. This is probably one of the most valuable programs I have heard about in the school system. My kids were teased or rejected mainly in Junior High, now Middle School and it was devastating.
    I went to the Counselor at the time to ask for a meeting about this bullying and rejection. Mary Flynn said she could not do a thing about it.

    I really thought that one solution to the problem for Middle School would be
    to have seperate schools for boys and girls. When the hormones click in the behavior gets really nasty. I know there is also a lot of bullying in the elementary school and that is where this program is starting. Bravo to all who are giving their time. How can I help?

  3. Babette d'Yveine

    I think this is a wonderful program. I wish they had had it when I was a child. I was bullied mercelessly from sixth to eighth grades by both girls and boys. The phrase “mean girls” could have been coined in my school. I hope this will be eliminated, but it will take a lot of work.

  4. Its a great goal and I applaud those who want to stop bullying and put forth the effort in to do so. Unfortunately its not something that I think will change until parents – in their homes – take an active role in addressing it. I have kids that have grown up in Westport and are in middle school and high school here now. Each of my children (boys and girls) have at some point or another been bullied despite the anti-bullying programs that have been in place in the school system here starting from pre-school age. The school gets involved and meets with both families but the school administrators can only do so much – and they do quite a bit. But ultimately nothing changes because the parents of the bullies never want to believe that their sweet child is capable of ‘that’ type of behavior. Until THAT changes, its a losing battle.

    • Your comments are on the mark. The parents of bullies are as much a part of the problem as the bullies themselves.

    • I couldn’t agree more! It is amazing to me how much our children pick up from their own parents! Not just that a parent can’t believe their sweet kid is bullying, but that the parents themselves are bullies! I was at one of the K2BK training sessions with the Staples students and a small group were talking about how mean their own parents were when talking about other parents, or friends of theirs! They are hearing this in the car, at the dinner table, in passing etc. and this is their modeling?! Though it may not always seem it, but our children are watching and taking in everything we do, the good and the bad! I have made my own share of mistakes with my kids, but I now make every effort to speak and act more kindly since I heard these students stories..looks like these K2BK students are teaching the parents too!

  5. Sank T. Monious

    Kids with problems at home bring them to school and turn them on other kids. Kids who are not “normal” become targets for bullies. My mother’s answer to the problem in the 50’s was for me to give it back to them and I did but the results were mixed. Looks like our society is moving forward. My two kids have not experienced any of this. My autistic son has been mainstreamed since day one and the community is like an extended family to him. K2BK IS GOOD WORK, It is GOD’S work no matter who your God may be.