In 2015, two moms joined forces hoping to make a positive impact on the KIND of schools their children attend. They knew that their daughters would soon potentially face the dark issues that ply today’s adolescents: Code red lockdowns, bullying, drug abuse, not fitting in, infighting and unhealthy competition within friend groups, and the unimaginable tragedy of youth suicide. So they set out to try and pave a kinder, gentler path for them.
One mom had watched some of these same challenges plague her oldest son as he navigated adolescence. She worried: Would the pressures be any less grueling for her daughter? And how would her youngest son respond in a few years? The other mom’s daughter had been injured on the school playground by a younger student that chucked a boulder-sized rock at her foot when she and her friends wouldn’t share their candy with him. The perpetrator was suspended. Only later did the mom find out this young boy has a disability. Questions plagued her: What IS bullying? Are we too quick to slap on the “bully” label? What DO we DO when our kids face challenges like this? What DO our kids DO?
And then, the unthinkable. A local fourteen-year-old girl took her own life. This young girl embodied everything the two moms recognized in their own daughters: intelligence, athleticism, friendliness, beauty, humor and kindness. Hers was the third suicide in our community in three consecutive years by a female student fourteen and younger. The moms became more determined than ever to take meaningful action and help.
They set up a meeting with their local school district administrators. With their first enthusiastic declaration of support in tow, they rallied with another good friend engaged in similar efforts, reached out to local businesses, and ignited support from their community’s local mayors and other civic/service leaders. What began as a small effort to screen the Kind Campaign’s documentary film, Finding Kind, to 1100 middle school students quickly snowballed into a widespread community initiative and new nonprofit organization they called Kind Community.
“As an organization, it’s important to us that we stand FOR something rather than AGAINST anything.” Trent Clegg, Liaison to Kind Community for the Marshall Public Library.
Now, with a fledgling board and organizing committee, Kind Community pours their efforts into programs that cultivate positive school and community cultures. It’s a regional initiative that encourages individuals, parents, educators, and business, service and community leaders to become active change agents within their own circle of influence. The mission is to provide tools that empower every individual in the community to actively create the environments in which they wish to live, work, play and learn.
It’s a collaborative effort in every way.
“Our intention was never to recreate the wheel. There are already so many amazing service organizations making a positive impact in our community. Our goal is to shine a spotlight on those organizations and create a bridge that connects us all more strongly together.” Courtney Fisher and Rainbow Maldonado, Founding Directors, Kind Community. Programming includes Kind Week, celebrated annually across Southeast Idaho during the third week in September. Kind Community’s founders, board members, committee members and volunteers work directly with community leaders, businesses, education stakeholders and community members, to bring the entire community together in celebration of Kind Week. Kind Community also provides funding and support for local public, private and charter schools to implement the Kind Campaign’s Kind Club curriculum.