Last fall I was asked to co-chair the Winnipeg Police Association’s Cool 2Be Kind campaign. As the school year comes to a close, there are many successes from the campaign’s first year.
There is no doubt that youth today face myriad issues from cyberbullying to discrimination. While there is a lot happening in government, in our community and in our schools aimed at addressing these issues through various anti-bullying initiatives, I believe part of the solution is also to promote values such as kindness, respect and compassion in children and youth.
By instilling these values early, we help set a child up for life.
Cool 2Be Kind aims at teaching youth the value of being kind and on promoting kindness as the real way to be cool. This initiative chooses to take a positive approach, rather than focusing on the negative.
The idea is simple: Off-duty police officers volunteer to present at schools, leaving students with positive reminders on why it is cool to be kind.
I, along with my campaign co-chair, provincial Children and Youth Opportunities Minister Kevin Chief, also participated in these fun, interactive and informative sessions and saw first-hand the effect that this project is having. In total, we’ve spoken to about 3,000 students and teachers over the year.
Cool 2Be Kind is unique in that it not only presents students with information, it also encourages them to take real and meaningful actions in their communities. In order to fully engage students’ energy and creativeness, the campaign provided grants for student or teacher-led initiatives which promote kindness and anti-bullying.
I was impressed with the creative and compassionate proposals we received. Some were very elaborate, while others are simple.
At Garden City Collegiate, for instance, Cool 2Be Kind supported Grade 12 students in making and giving cupcakes as a "Welcome to High School" to the new Grade 9 students. Also at Garden City, the campaign helped the Sew-Jahs make baby blankets and burp cloths to donate to community organizations for women and families in need.
Cool 2Be Kind sought creative, innovative and fun ways to be a force of kindness and a force of change. The campaign has far exceeded expectations and we are looking forward to growing even bigger next year.
I also want take a moment to congratulate graduating students at Maples Collegiate, Garden City Collegiate and West Kildonan Collegiate. Dream big. Do big.