Let me begin with two confessions.
Confession #1: I was bullied viciously and relentlessly from the fourth to the sixth grade, and, I once participated in bullying someone. Both being the victim and the bully left me feeling nauseous, and though difficult for me, these experiences helped me write a line of my personal manifesto: Always be kind.
Confession #2: I was one of the millions who visited and accidentally crashed the Kind Campaign website after Aaron Paul mentioned it in his Emmy acceptance speech this year (oops!). Within minutes of reading about Kind Campaign—a movement created by Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson to spread kindness and fight bullying—I knew these women and their cause needed to be unveiled to our Smart Girls community.
What exactly is Kind Campaign? Kind Campaign is an internationally recognized movement, documentary, and school program based upon the powerful belief in kindness. Kind Campaign’s programming brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of what Lauren and Molly call girl-against-girl crime. The campaign was inspired by Lauren’s own experience with bullying as a girl, and her work as an intern for Tom Shadyac during the making of his documentary, I Am.
“Throughout seventh and eighth grade, I went through a pretty traumatic experience with a group of girls. That experience put the issue of girl-against-girl bullying on my heart at a young age and since that time, I had known that I wanted to do something to start an honest conversation about this topic that had been swept under the rug for so long… [and then interning with Tom] inspired the depths of my soul and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed to make a documentary about this topic,” Lauren said.
Lauren then pitched the idea to her friend, Molly, who she met her junior year at Pepperdine University.
“The two of us had a ton of mutual friends throughout our first two years Pepperdine, but we hadn’t crossed paths until that year. I remember, the very first time we met, she was sitting in the film & communications building cafeteria and I sat down at her table with a mutual friend and showed her the ‘Leave Britney Alone!’ video on Youtube … [After being inspired to create Kind Campaign] I sat down with Molly and pitched her the idea of the film. She immediately connected, having gone through her own experiences with bullying during high school … Thank the universe that we ended up in each others lives because our relationship and how we run Kind Campaign as a team is absolutely perfect. I know that none of this would exist without our friendship and the way our brains create things together,” Lauren said.
During the process of creating the documentary, the vulnerable and heartbreaking stories they captured on camera led the women to take their cause even further—to create the non-profit Kind Campaign with the purpose of developing anti-bullying school programs and curriculum.
“Kind Campaign has grown immensely since our founding in 2009, where it started with this idea of a documentary and quickly grew into a school program, club curriculum, and online movement. Now our film, Finding Kind, screens in schools almost every day of the school year while we spend as much time as possible on the road with our assembly program watching real change take place right before our very eyes,” said Molly.
Since the founding of Kind Campaign in February 2009, Molly and Lauren have personally spoken in about 300 schools with their assembly program, their documentary Finding Kind has screened in thousands of schools and venues, and Kind Campaign has become the premiere anti-bullying program for girls across North America.
You’re in love? Me too. I’m obsessed with these ladies and their mission. Lucky for me, it seems the Kind Campaign gals are just as in love with Smart Girls and our mission to change the world by being yourself.
As Molly said, “[Kind Campaign stays true to this] one hundred percent. (P.S. I am obsessed with that motto!) This is a common theme throughout many of our talking points in our assembly and discussion and something that we strongly believe in. We celebrate embracing your individuality, while also discovering what it is that you’re passionate about so that you can go after your dreams and accomplish your goals. We also encourage grabbing a friend to come along on the journey because you really can change the world with your friends.”
“One of my favorite quotes was said by Howard Thurman. It reads: ‘Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive,’” Lauren adds.
“I deeply believe in that motto. There is nothing better than a person who comes alive when they tell or show you what they do or what they’re passionate about, whether that’s being a teacher, sailing, working on wall street, collecting stamps, making bread at a bakery, acting, working in construction, or being a librarian. You will be the best you if you find a way to do what you love and/or love what you do,” Lauren says.
The girls are the embodiment of their own mottos and ours–two authentic, inspired, generous women putting their light into the world.
Both of them have learned “more than [they] ever imagined… about filmmaking, non-profits, and business… we have learned priceless life lessons and have had the privilege to get a peek into the lives of hundreds of thousands of people that we’ve met on this journey. We have learned not only how broken so many girls across our country are, but more importantly how resilient and ready to create change they are as well.”
With the help of Aaron Paul’s recent Emmy shout-out, they are able to reach more girls than ever. It’s provided them with incredible momentum going into the new school year, and is enabling them to continue spreading change in auditoriums across the country.
“Aaron’s Emmy shout-out was incredible. Although we have been well established and active within thousands of schools over the last six years, because of Aaron, hundreds of thousands of new people now know about Kind Campaign. He is always using every opportunity he can to help.” As Kind Campaign enters into October, they also enter into their sixth annual national anti-bullying month tour. The girls will be speaking in 28 schools throughout the month and “cannot wait” to meet the amazing girls in each of the schools that they’re visiting. Lauren added that last year, Aaron hosted a fundraiser for Kind Campaign, which coincided with the series finale of Breaking Bad. The fundraiser raised enough money for Kind Campaign to provide these school programs free of charge this entire year–fulfilling a dream the girls have had since beginning the organization in 2009.
Thank you Lauren and Molly (and Aaron Paul), and all others involved in Kind Campaign for being about something positive and nurturing for all the Smart Girls in the world! By the powers invested in me and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls: I now pronounce you Officially Awesome.
To support Kind Campaign (do it!) or learn more about their October Free To Be Kind anti-bullying tour, please visit www.kindcampaign.com!