Since the Natick Parents Against Bullying and Cyberbullying formed a year and a half ago, the group has been working to extinguish bullying in Natick schools and the rest of the community. This month, the organization, along with the Natick Together for Youth Coalition, is encouraging students to jump in on the fight through their Kindness Counts Contest.
Through April 2, students of all ages are encouraged to create videos, art, essays, poems and songs all under the "Kindness Counts" theme, encouraging other students to be respectful of each other. Entries should show how people should be treated and offer solutions to bullying problems.
“Kindness counts is about bringing the community around promoting kindness and promoting the positive behaviors instead of just being against bullying,” said Christine Guthery, who co-founded the Natick Anti-Bullying Coalition and has worked with chairperson Shelley Juppe to put together the more than 30 informational events and programs since the group's inception.
The goal of the Kindness Counts initiative is to increase town-wide discussion about bullying and how it can be prevented, while increasing parent awareness about what the schools are doing to curb bullying.
"This is an opportunity for everybody to talk about it together," said Guthery.
Students in preschool through high school across town are encouraged to place their entries in the submission boxes in the schools and at the and Twelve winners will be selected in total— one from each category at each grade level: pre-K, grades K through 4, grades 5-8 and grades 9 through 12. Categories include essays/poems, visual arts projects and videos/songs. Only one entry is allowed per student. Students can work alone or in groups. The winners will be chosen based on originality, use of materials and quality of work, according to official contest rules.
With each entry, participants must include a completed official contest registration form.
While the contest is happening, Gutherie writes blog posts daily on the group website to keep the town informed about what the schools are doing to stop bullying so all aspects of the community can get involved in the initiative.
“I started [this organization] because I recognized bullying as a serious community issue that the schools were spending a lot of time on…and they needed parent support and community support. It’s not something the schools can do alone and the parents really needed to know,” said Guthery. "Is everything solved and perfect? No, but the goal is constant improvement."
The winners of the contest will be presented awards at the May 4 Natick Anti-Bullying Coalition meeting and will have their submissions shown on
The deadline to enter the Kindness Counts contest is April 2.