UK kindness charity 52 Lives has been visiting schools to spread kindness and reduce bullying, as part of a weekly kindness project. 

52 Lives, set up in 2013 by Jaime Thurston, is a charity which aims to connect people in need directly with strangers who want to help every week of the year. The School Kindness Project is an off shoot of the concept but in schools all over the UK.

The project aims to spread kindness and empower children by demonstrating in a very practical way how one small person can make a big difference to someone's life. So far, the project visits 39 schools a year, providing workshops for almost 4000 children. 

One child who has already been supported through the project is 13-year-old, Toby. Toby had been on the receiving end of various forms of bullying for nearly all his school life and was the victim of a vicious attack by a group of boys where he was severely outnumbered and beaten. One of the boys filmed the attack and posted it on Snapchat. 

 

The attack came at the end of the hardest year of Toby’s life. In December 2016 Toby’s mum died after many years of illness, and then in April last year his step-mum died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage. Jaime in schools running the 52 Lives project

 

52 Lives has visited schools including the Paragon School in Bath and Nottingham Girls High School to run a school kindness workshop where teachers and pupils heard about Toby’s story. Toby said: “I was going through such a difficult time at school and at home. I just felt so isolated and lonely, like I had nobody to turn to.”

 

As part of the workshop, the pupils sent him letters and videos of support. Toby added: “It’s easy to forget how nice people can be when you’re being bullied. The messages I received from the pupils through the School Kindness Project made me so happy, they helped me realise that people do care.”

 

Talking about their school’s experience of the sessions, Simon Lockley, Deputy Head Teacher at Tirlebrook Primary School, Tewkesbury said “Our experience of the School Kindness Project has been amazing. The staff have been uplifted, the children inspired, and I just want to thank 52 Lives for what you have done for us. It was certainly one of the best mornings we have ever had as a school.”

 

To mark Stand Up to Bullying Day on June 13, the Kindness Project visited pupils from La Scuola Italiana a Londra in Holland Park, London to continue its great work and help a five-year-old boy called Rhys from Hampshire. 

 

Due to severe ear infections, Rhys has undergone a few surgical procedures and must now wear bandages, which has sadly led to him being bullied. Currently recovering from his latest surgery, the pupils at the school created get well cards with messages of support for him.

 

Jaime, 52 Lives founder, said: “Bullying is something we are passionate about preventing.  Through the School Kindness Project, we want to help schoolchildren understand the power of kindness and how it can change people’s lives for the better. 

 

“As well as helping victims of bullying, being kind can have a very positive effect on a child’s mental health. Helping children like Toby and Rhys is what this project is all about and seeing the effect the messages from strangers are having on them both is a wonderful example of how such a small gesture can have a huge impact.”

 

Each week, 52 Lives visits a different school in the UK to run a Kindness Workshop. To find out more about 52 Lives Schools Kindness Project, visit www.52-lives.org/schools or follow facebook.com/52LivesSchools

 

About Jaime Thurston

52 Lives was founded by Jaime Thurston, a writer who lives in Berkshire. Jaime is originally from Australia. She began her career as a journalist, before moving to the UK, where she worked for a Member of the European Parliament, a wildlife charity and an organisation that supported families of prisoners. She was a Member of the Independent Monitoring Board for a local prison, and a Trustee of a Richmond-based charity that helped isolated groups of people in the borough. Jaime lives in Berkshire with her partner Greig and her three children, Abbey, Max and Joseph.

Jaime is the author of Kindness – The Little Thing That Matters Most (£6.15 on Amazon, published by HarperCollins) and was recently named Clarins Most Dynamisante Woman of the Year 2016. She also received a Points of Light Award from UK Prime Minister David Cameron and a Richmond Community Award for her work.

Images
Jaime in schools running the 52 Lives project
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