Campaign looks to bring bullying to an end

Pupils from the Cape Town International School taking part in the Cool2BKind campaign.

A campaign started by a Sea Point resident is helping to combat bullying in Cape Town schools.

Dee Boehner started Cool2BKind last year after realising how big a problem bullying is in schools.

“We initially targeted young children to teach them to be kind to each other. Then it spread to the older kids who we asked to spread the message to the young ones,” said Ms Boehner.

Cool2BKind is registered as an NPO under The Kidz2kidz Trust, which is behind the Santa Shoe Box and Warmth2Kidz initiatives. Warmth2Kidz distributes warm clothes and blankets to schools during winter while the Santa Shoe Box project prepares gifts for children at Christmas time.

Cool2BKind runs workshops in schools across Cape Town to spread messages about self-worth, respect, human rights and kindness, and give children the tools to stop bullying and abuse.

It’s an issue close to Cheryline Abrahams’s heart. “I was bullied at school as well,” said the full-time volunteer, who was inspired to join the campaign after a workshop last year at the Lavender Hill school where she was teaching at the time.

“I truly believe that this is my calling. We teach kids about giving small acts of kindness, and it doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be something as simple as a hug or a smile. We try to introduce these ideas in the workshops,” said Ms Abrahams.

During the workshops, volunteers ask the children what their understanding of kindness is, and they teach them how to be kind to themselves.

“We give them a book that includes four characters. One of them is the lion, while the other one is a tortoise. The reason why we include the tortoise is to show that everybody gets to where they are going at their own pace,” said Ms Abrahams.

Important helpline numbers are also displayed on the book.

“I would like to see this campaign grow to new heights. I would like to see it become as big as the Santa Shoe Box project,” said Ms Abrahams, adding that the campaign hopes to reach 12 000 children through the workshops this year.

She said she had also exposed her three children to the campaign. “I truly believe that this is a calling and that this is what I’m supposed to do. I will travel anywhere on public transport to do it.”

Art Jamming, a business run by Leora Hessen of Sea Point, is helping to raise funds for the project through “Colour Jam for Peace”, a big art project for budding artists (and their parents) which will take place at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and Melrose Arch in Johannesburg on Saturday September 17, from 10am to 2pm.

“On the day, everyone will get together and paint on a large canvas. It is good for people to get together and paint to portray messages of peace, love and hope instead of being aggressive on the playground,” said Ms Hessen.

The entry fee will go towards funding Cool2BeKind toolkits (which includes the book with helpline numbers) for pupils. Visit www.artjamming.co.za to book. It costs R50 to buy a Cool2BeKind toolkit. The kit includes two reading books, two bookmarks with essential helpline numbers and two kindness heart badges. To donate funds, contact Kidz2Kidz on info@kidz2kidz.co.za or call Dee at Kidz2Kidz on 083 460 4449.