If you are local, chances are you have seen kids sporting Let’s Be Kind shirts around town. Or maybe now that you know what to look for, you’ll start to notice when you see kids wearing them with pride. In an age where bullying and negativity often gets the attention, it is really refreshing to see KINDNESS take over. We reached out to Rebekah, a super busy teenager and the one behind the movement, to hear about her journey and where she hopes The Let’s Be Kind Movement is heading.
I personally found out about ‘Let’s Be Kind’ when I started seeing your cute logo showing up on kids’ t-shirts. Can you tell us a little about the Let’s Be Kind Movement and how it got started?
I love hearing when people see the t-shirts that students are wearing. Let’s Be Kind started out of my own story of being picked on in the 8th grade. My family and I had lived overseas in El Salvador from my 5th grade year to my 7th grade year. So much kindness was shown to me while living abroad. I went to a private school where we celebrated diversity through the 28 different countries that were represented there. We all treated each other like family. When my family moved back to the States, I was entering Costa Mesa Middle School as an 8th grader. It was towards the middle of the school year when I began coming home and telling my mom how my friends where picking on me. Often, I would go to school and students would step on my shoes, make fun of me for speaking Spanish, make fun of my curly hair, and finally a student from a team I was part of spit in my face. It was months of me coming home and asking my mom how to respond to all this. Finally, she suggested we buy pizzas and tape a sign on the lids that said “Let’s Be Kind to each other.” So, we did. We bought over 200 slices of pizza and gave them away during our lunch hour. That began a conversation on my school campus.
A few weeks later my mom made the Let’s Be Kind logo you see on the t-shirts. I wanted my whole campus to experience kindness. In 24 hours, I raised over $3000 to gift every student, faculty and staff member on my middle school campus a black Let’s Be Kind Tee. That began the first Let’s Be Kind Day.
You were in middle school when you started this movement. What were your classmate’s initial reactions?
My classmates where so surprised because we kept it a secret. Other than the handful of friends that helped me pass out t-shirts, and our Vice Principal and Principal, no one knew what we were up to. Before the bell rang to dismiss for lunch I got on the intercom and explained what they would be walking into. I told them how I wanted each of them to know that they mattered and that kindness could change our campus. As students came out of their classrooms, music was playing and they ran to come grab a slice of pizza and a free Let’s Be Kind t-shirt. What happened next changed us. Each person began to put on the t-shirts and for one afternoon we were all unified for one purpose, to be kinder to one another on our school campus. And now, whenever you see a student wearing a Let’s Be Kind tee you know they are a safe person to go to, you know that they were part of a school event, and you know that they too are working to be kind.
You have since graduated and moved onto high school, and have even brought the Let’s Be Kind movement to an elementary school. Have you found a particular age group to be more responsive than others?
Our elementary school has made their Let’s Be Kind tee part of their everyday culture! They wear it every week and celebrate kindness in their classrooms daily and around their campus. This one event changed the culture of their school. The t-shirt is important because it says, “let’s”, which means you and me. Let’s all be kind, to ourselves and to one another. The Middle School campus is super important. Can you imagine? If in elementary school you have a culture of kindness that will then also trickle into your middle school experience. Our middle school years are often our most difficult years as students. The Let’s Be Kind t-shirt reminds us that we were created for good. In middle school it was so fun to have a huge party and celebrate kindness together, reminding us that we are kids who are growing up in a world that needs more kindness and we can be the ones to change the future.
My own kids are elementary age so we have a few years before they get their own phones, hit their teens, or won’t want to tell me everything, but I know the day will come. If you could give parents one piece of advice on how to handle the teenage years, what would it be?
Spend time with your kids. My mom and dad are super involved in my (and my brother’s) lives. There are times when I’m like, “ugh, just leave me alone”, but I appreciate how much they care about us. They are always challenging us, helping us to think for ourselves and allowing us to be kids. Our experience living abroad and seeing people outside of the USA has also shaped me. They gave me a great gift by raising me overseas. I have experienced so many difficult things that has helped to shape me as a person.
What are your hopes for the Let’s Be Kind Movement? We’d love to see this go district-wide.
We would love for our whole district to join in the movement. We are currently talking to all schools in NMUSD and have great support from our district as a whole. We currently have 15 schools: Elementary, Middle Schools and CMHS joining in this year for a city wide Let’s Be Kind Day. Can you imagine the impact it would have in our community to see all 22,000 students in our district wearing a Let’s Be Kind tee? That’s our hope! The best way to get your school involved is to talk to your Principal, ASB director or PFO/PTA. Then head to our website letsbekind.org/schools and sign up!
When will you be hosting your Let’s Be Kind events for 2020?
Really any day can be Let’s be Kind Day, but we are hosting Let’s Be Kind Day for NMUSD on Monday, March 30, 2020 for all our Middle Schools and High Schools, and all our Elementary Schools will be on Monday, April 20, 2020. Any school can join in on either of those days. We are also very excited for our new 2020 colors for our LBK Day event tee. You can be a part of giving a tee to a student by donating at https://letsbekind.org/donate.
What is the best way for parents, students and other schools to get involved?
There are so many ways to join the movement!
1. Buy a tee!!! For every tee purchased you help spread kindness on a school campus! You can purchase our original Let’s Be Kind Tee on our online store. We also added some new tees this past holiday season: our SPREAD KINDNESS TEE and our SEAMOS ALMABLES TEE. https://letsbekind.org/store/
2. Bring it to your school! Any student or parent, teacher, PTA/PFO or principal can sign up a school. Just visit https://letsbekind.org/schools/ and fill out the form under “Sign Up Your School.”
3. Become a Partner Donor! Our organization depends on the generous donations of people and organizations. Your ongoing donation helps to support the spread of kindness to every school. Help us reach students by giving toward Let’s Be Kind.
Three ways to give:
1. GIVE A TEE: Help purchase a tee for students at our 2020 Let’s Be Kind Day event. When you buy a tee we will give a tee!
2. BECOME A MONTHLY COLLABORATOR: Join our ongoing effort to bring kindness to every student on school campuses.
3. BECOME A PARTNER DONOR: Help sponsor a Let’s Be Kind Day on a school campus. Corporate sponsors allow us to involve the community at large. The desire of our corporate sponsor is to serve the student. By becoming a corporate sponsor, we will recognize you as a member of our community and help promote your good work in the community you serve.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Before we let you go, we want to know more about you, the girl behind the movement! Tell us something about yourself.
I love little kids. Especially babies! I love to sing and I am part of my school choir. I’m an introvert, yep! So, you can image how hard it is for me to be in big crowds!!! And I enjoy speaking Spanish!
Currently I’m dreaming of going to college to study nursing with a minor in Spanish.
Favorite Book or Podcast?
Book: The Giver
Favorite School Subject:
Baking, I make some mean cinnamon rolls!
Favorite place in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach?
Any place I can get TACOS!!!!
Thank you Rebekah! We can’t wait to see what you will do next! You can find out more about the Let’s Be Kind Movement by visiting letsbekind.org or by following on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!