How many of you have been teased at some point or another?
I remember in high school some girls drew huge nasty comments all over my white car in green Crayon…amusing? Not so much. I also can vividly remember vicious rumors, mean whispers, & a whole lotta gossip ( which sometimes, I regrettably participated in ). Middle school & high school can be…well, rough. I feel like we’ve all been guilty of being of unkindness…& we’ve probably all been in the victim’s shoes as well.
So when I spoke to Lauren Paul & Molly Thompson, I was instantly inspired.
They’re the creators of Kind Campaign— if you haven’t heard of the organization, you have to check it out.
Molly & Lauren developed Kind Campaign which “is an internationally recognized movement, documentary, and school program based upon the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl ‘crime.’” You can watch their documentary trailer here.
Also amazing: Lauren is married to Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad ( they’re such a cute, dynamic couple!! ) & with his help, the girls threw a fundraiser for Kind Campaign that raised 1.3 million ( YES!! MILLION! ) dollars to provide their school programming free of charge to hundreds of schools across North America. So cool, right?!
Their passion to spread kindness everywhere is literally contagious. How so? Well, since talking to Molly & Lauren, I’ve consciously tried to do something kind for someone else everyday. Whether it’s as simple as holding the elevator, buying a random person’s Starbucks latte, or providing someone with a lil positive reinforcement…I’m really trying to be kind as much as possible. How are you kind? Any kindness tips? I would love to hear any of your feedback/stories below!! ).
Ok, ok, I’ll introduce you to the lovely, inspiring Lauren & Molly:
| How did Kind Campaign begin? |
Lauren Paul: I had a traumatic experience with a group of girls in 7th grade. I completely lost myself in the social anxiety I dealt with– my grades dropped, I lost all my self confidence and I dealt with a severe depression. Since that experience, the universal theme of females turning against each other has always fascinated me and deeply saddened me . I never understood why it was looked at as a rite of passage and since I was little, wanted to start a conversation about the reality of female bullying.
During my Junior year at Pepperdine, I had the opportunity to work on a documentary called “I AM.” I was super inspired by that experience & thought it would be a great way to share this story.
Molly & I were both in the Pepperdine film program. The summer going into our senior year, I sat down with her and shared the idea of doing a documentary. We immediately started shooting local interviews. By seeing how vulnerable females were on camera, it prompted us to do something more. That’s when we founded Kind Campaign with the idea of developing a school assembly program & various curriculum.
Molly Thompson: I had been in London interning while Lauren was working on “I AM.” She pitched the idea for the documentary & I immediately jumped at the opportunity because I was immensely effected by an awful experience in high school with a group of girls and I immediately felt passionate about the topic.
We were so impacted by how women opened up on camera and shared their vulnerability. We knew we had opened up a conversation that had been waiting to be opened up for generations. From that moment on, Kind Campaign came alive and has been snowballing ever since.
From day one, we just went for it and had a bunch of ideas that people thought we were crazy at the time but we were both so passionate about the issue. We didn’t take no for an answer and here we are five and a half years later . To date, we have spoken in over 300 schools across North America and our documentary has screened in thousands of schools and venues. Kind Campaign is thought of as the premier bullying movement for girls.
| Tell us about your various Kind Campaign programs? |
LP & MT: There are many ways that Kind Campaign can come to your school or community:
1.) Screening of Finding Kind: Thousands of schools have held screenings of Finding Kind and you can too! Here are the simple steps: a.) Go to http://www.findingkind.com b.) click ‘Host a Screening/Assembly’ c.) fill out the inquiry form d.) our distribution company, IndieFlix will get right back to you to see about setting up your event!
2.) Kind Campaign Assembly: By going through the same steps listed above, you can have us come to your school or community to speak! We have done this in hundreds of schools and its such a life-changing event.
3.) Kind Club Curriculum: The Kind Club curriculum is a great way to continue the conversation after we’ve left the school . The idea behind the club is to get different social cliques together & to break down those walls as girls connect on the universal experiences that girls have just being a female. We want girls to bring the conversation out into their community and into their school hallways throughout the school year. It’s an interactive nineteen week curriculum & it’s available on our website: http://www.KindCampaign.com.
4.) The Kind Kit: This Fall 2014 we will launch Kind Kit curriculum. Over the years, we’ve wanted to figure out a way to create a curriculum that would allow schools to host assemblies year after year without having to go through the process of booking us to travel out to speak. The Kind Kit curriculum is the perfect solution and will include all things Kind Campaign. Kind Kits include our documentary, Finding Kind, our nineteen week Kind Club curriculum and all of our Kind Campaign materials such as the Kind Pledge, Kind Apology and Kind Card. The most exciting part of the Kind Kits is the assembly DVD that we have created specifically for this curriculum. The assembly DVD features the two of us sharing our testimonies and some of the key messages from our in-person assembly. When a school utilizes this assembly DVD with their copy of Finding Kind, it will give the students a more personal experience as they get to know the founders and hear advice straight from our hearts. The two of us can only speak in one school at a time, so the Kind Kit will allow the program to grow exponentially. A lot of our impact is directly related to our age–_ the students connect deeply with our message because its coming from two girls who appear as peers rather than teachers or parents. When we get too old to have the same effect, the Kind Kit will be there to keep our legacy going.
Right now, schools have to mail back their copy of Finding Kind when they host screenings of the film within their schools. With the Kind Kit, once a school adopts the program, it’s theirs to keep forever, allowing them to host assemblies year after year, like these:
| What’s a memorable moment from your Kind Campaign journey ? |
LP & MT: We have such a long list of memorable moments but one that sticks out happened very recently. While speaking in Title One schools in Phoenix Arizona this Spring, we had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Webb. When we walked into Vista Grande High School, we immediately noticed Rachel sitting in the front row by herself in a sea of five hundred freshman & sophomore girls. As we shared our testimonies our eyes kept coming back to Rachel. She sat there with so much pain on her face and at times would stare down at her feet– you could tell that she felt invisible. After we screened our documentary, Finding Kind, we came back into the room to start the interactive activities, the Kind Pledge, Kind Apology and Kind Card. The Kind Pledge gives girls the chance to write down an action step they are going to take related to our discussion. We called on a large group of girls to come to the front of the gym to share their pledges. To our surprise, Rachel was the first girl to raise her hand and walk to the stage to share. She held the mic and with a broken voice on the verge of tears she asked for help. She told the girls she was sorry for whatever it was she had done that had made all of the girls in her school hate her and treat her so horribly. With so much innocent vulnerability, she shared that she gets treated like ‘trash’ & is ignored every day at school. At the end of her moment at the mic, she whispered in tears, “I just want a better life.”
It was hard for us to not break down as we watched this poor girl in such agonizing pain, call out her peers who had treated her so badly. She took her seat as the other girls in line began to share their Kind Pledges. Immediately after Rachel sat down, a girl from the top of the bleachers walked all the way to the front row and sat next to her. It was so amazing to see a student who was likely not her friend, reach out to her immediately.
Our next activity, the Kind Apology, gives girls the chance to say I’m sorry to another girl. As the girls filled out their apologies, tons were passed Rachel’s way. You could see a glimmer of hope on her face as she read the apologies given to her. We finish the assemblies with the Kind Card which gives the girls the chance to say something kind to another person. Similar to the pledge, we allow the girls to share these in front of their peers. The first and last girls to share read their Kind Card to Rachel, apologizing to her and letting her know that they along with their peers promise to change Rachel’s experience at school. That glimmer of hope we saw on Rachel’s face soon turned into a smile.
After the assembly there was a swarm of around a hundred girls trying to approach Rachel to give her their kind apologies and kind cards. She walked out of that room with a huge stack of them in her hands and a newfound confidence that was not present two hours before when we started the assembly. On her way back to class, we handed Rachel a necklace that says ‘strength’. It’s our hope that she wears that every day and remembers the incredible event that took place on her campus.
Meeting Rachel was such a gift. To see all five hundred freshman girls collectively decide to be kind to her and change Rachel’s school experience gave us so much hope and is one of the many reasons we feel inspired to continue speaking in schools day after day.
| What’s a regular day for the Kind campaign girls ? |
MT: We’re both based in Los Angeles. A regular day for Kind Campaign when we are not on the road speaking in schools can take form in many ways. Most of our work when we are not traveling takes place via email so Lauren and I spend a lot of time at our computer working on various initiatives. We also spend a lot of time editing videos for social media content and in the edit working on our upcoming Kind Kit curriculum. Sometimes we have interviews, photo shoots, fundraisers, Kind Campaign events— it just depends on whats going on that month!
LP: When we are on the road speaking a typical day for Kind Campaign looks something like this: we fly into a city late at night and check into a hotel, usually a Hampton Inn. We wake up at our hotel around 6am, get ready & go downstairs for breakfast where we each have our own little breakfast routine. We hop in our rental car and drive to the first school assembly— sometimes it’s twenty minutes from the hotel, sometimes it’s two hours. We get to the school and speak + screen our documentary for two & half hours. Then we hop in the car and many times go directly to another school in the area to do another two & half hour assembly. We usually finish speaking right when the school day is over and either check out the city or go back to the hotel to take a nap. Sometimes we hop on a flight right after our assemblies & head to our next speaking destination. It all depends on what our schedule looks like but it’s always hectic & tiring & beautiful & amazing.
| What’s next for the Kind Campaign? |
LP: This October we are hitting the road for our 6th annual anti-bullying month tour! We cannot wait. We will be speaking in about thirty schools over the course of October. Thinking about Kind Campaign long-term, we would love to see our programming in every school across the country.
“We have seen Kind Campaign save & change lives so we hope that every girl in America gets the chance to experience this message.”
MT: We are currently working on post-production for the Kind Kit which Lauren described in depth above. If you’re interested in learning more about how to get the Kind Kit, you can find more information at http://www.kindcampaign.com or stay in touch with our social media outlets.
| Best tip for boosting self-confidence? |
LP: Be YOU. I know that sounds cliche but there is something very powerful in knowing that YOU are the ONLY you that will ever exist. Be the best you you can be— whatever that looks like. For me, being kind to others and having healthy friendships & relationships with the people in my life gives me a great sense of confidence. I think if you can come to a place where you feel genuinely happy for other women in your life & you can celebrate each others milestones accomplishments rather than feeling jealous, you have reached a very peaceful & confident place within yourself ( << AGREED!!! ).
Here’s one of my favorite quotes. I think this is a great way to live life and help instill confidence:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
MT: Do not be afraid of being YOU. We’re constantly receiving and processing ( knowingly or unknowingly ) messages from our peers, the media, & society about who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to act. This causes us to put on or take off certain aspects of ourselves without even realizing that we’re doing so. But in doing so, we lose who we truly are & we stop embracing our true selves, which in turn causes us to lose our innate confidence because we’re too busy picking ourselves a part. In reality, we should all feel incredibly confident being ourselves because we are all freaking awesome, just the way we are.
| How do you stay healthy on the road? |
LP: Being on the road so much means we never get too deep into any routine— life’s always changing. We have so much fun experiencing the different sub-cultures of America as we travel the country. We get to try amazing local cuisines and see sites that we may never have had the chance to see.
For me, being healthy is all about keeping things in moderation. I know that if I want to feel good when I board a 6am or a red-eye flight followed by hours of speaking in front of students; I need to be ‘on’ & feel as good as I can physically because this sort of traveling lifestyle can be very exhausting. To feel good and healthy, I keep things in moderation, get as much sleep as possible, drink lots of water, & take vitamins as much as possible!
MT: Being on the road so frequently can present some challenges when it comes to eating and work out routines. We balance embracing where we are and trying local foods/styles with our healthy go-to options, so we definitely get a taste of the places we visit by ensuring that we’re balancing indulgent and healthy meals. We’ve done our fair share of springing through airports, which definitely helps when we don’t have time or energy to squeeze in a work out in between speaking engagements. My number one go-to for staying healthy on the road is chugging water- it helps keep me hydrated, gives me energy, & wards off illness.
| Tell me about the fundraiser you did with Aaron; how did it go? |
LP & MT: Aaron always wanted to do a big event surrounding the season finale of Breaking Bad for his family, friends, and the loyal Breaking Bad fans. One day, he said “let’s make this a fundraiser for Kind Campaign!” We were so excited about the potential that an event had.
We had NO idea how huge it would become though. By the end of the finale fundraiser, we raised nearly 1.3 million dollars for Kind Campaign! That money gave us the opportunity to provide all of our programming free of charge this entire year which had been a dream of ours since we founded Kind Campaign. All of our assemblies, screenings, & curriculum has been provided at no cost to hundreds of schools this year, deeming this our first FREE TO BE KIND year! It’s our hope that we can continue to fundraise in a way that will enable us to provide free programming to schools & communities year after year.
| What does the word KIND mean to you? |
LP: Kindness takes shape in a lot of forms. For starters, being empathetic & compassionate to other humans and to the world we live in means you are approaching life with kindness. Kindness means having an understanding that we all have a story and a specific journey & to not pass judgement onto others. It’s just as important to be kind to yourself as it is to be kind to others. In order for you to have a healthy relationship with other people in your life, you must first get to know and love yourself.
MT: Being Kind has a lot of meanings but when talking specifically about women with other women, being kind means you are in a place where you can be truly happy for others & to not let jealously or insecurities get in the way of celebrating each others milestones.
Women can have a hard time doing that but when they do, they’ll find a great peace with themselves & their surroundings.
+ To ‘Join the Movement’ of Kind Campaign, click here.
++ Click to follow: Kind Campaign, Molly Thompson, & Lauren Paul on Instagram.