Local nonprofit uses hip hop to stop bullying in schools

A local nonprofit is shaking things up in schools. The Be Kind People Project is using hip hop to teach kids that it’s cool to be kind.

“They hear ‘don’t do this, don’t, don’t, don’t,’” said Bo Whittenton, Senior National Director of the BKPP. “We believe that we can give them the same message, but in a positive way.

Through examples of what to do, versus what not to do, the BKPP strives to reduce bullying and increase kindness. The Be Kind Crew performs high energy hip-hop numbers and spoken word pieces to get the students’ attention.

“We’re trying to give them that ‘wow’ factor at first, so we can gain those cool points and make sure they’re going to listen to us,” said Sarah “Saza” Kent, Artistic Director of the BKPP.

The Be Kind Crew gets kids on their feet, dancing and moving, and practicing kindness. There are examples of what to do in tough situations during their assemblies. Students are also asked to point to their teacher, look them in the eyes, and thank them for all they do. To show their commitment, students can take the Be Kind Pledge. When they do, they’re promising to be encouraging, supportive, positive, helpful, honest, considerate, thankful, responsible, respectful and a friend to all.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas stopped by a Be Kind assembly to see how they are making a difference.

“To see them share that enthusiasm with our children, you know they can grow up to be whatever they want and follow their own dreams,” said Douglas. “That all starts here with very positive messages.”

Assemblies are only part of the BKPP program. Schools can also access online programs for breaks in the classroom and reminders to be kind.

The Be Kind People Project was started in Arizona, but is now growing to a national program. To learn more about this project or to take the Be Kind Pledge, go to thebekindpeopleproject.org.