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I can’t think of a more important message to get into the heads and hearts of our children than that they are loved and valued–and that they belong. And also that every other single person living on this planet has an equal right to be loved and valued and to feel like they belong. Research has shown that, of all the risk factors for suicidal behavior, the strongest and most consistent is a feeling of not belonging.
And so my latest passion project is an initiative I helped create called The “Everyone Belongs” Project. Our aim is to increase understanding and connection across race, religion, and ethnicity in our schools–and thereby decrease “othering” and bullying.
Incidences of identity-based bullying and hate speech aimed at those who have different colors of skin or different faith traditions have sky-rocked over the past few years. In our schools, this most often takes the form of swastikas on lockers or notebooks, the use of the “N” word, or telling children to “go back to where you came from.” This is taking a huge toll on the emotional and physiological well-being of our children.
At The “Everyone Belongs” Project, we are currently in the process of developing engaging, age-appropriate assemblies to take into our schools which will teach this message that Everyone Belongs! (I belong, you belong, we all belong.)
With the help of the dynamic husband/wife team of Ross and Michelle Boothe, we also now have a theme song! We wanted something that would appeal to kids (hence, the pop/hip-hop vibe of the song) and get it not only on their playlists, but into their heads and hearts.