A little bit about my work as a community facilitator with Sticks’n Stones, a bullying prevention organisation in Central Otago, New Zealand.

Going into a classroom full of students aged 11 and 12 was daunting at first. In our sessions we are talking about self-acceptance, kindness and empowerment with the young people and if you don’t show up authentic they just don’t care.

The program was developed by young people and every session starts with a game. It’s amazing how easy it is to connect over some laughs, where does that stop on the way into adulthood?! We then have videos or slideshows around different topics like: Self talk, knowing yourself, the bystander effect, difference & diversity, homophobic and transphobic bullying and many more.

We try to leave space in the sessions for the young people to share their experiences. A lot of schools experience “snitch” culture, so making everyone feel safe in a conversation without blame feels important.

One of the main messages of Sticks’n Stones is: Now is good, later is good. It’s not when we speak up, it’s that we do.

I wonder if we see adults struggling with kindness and connection because there was not enough love and kindness around when they were young. Learning to trust can be a hard thing at any age. Check out the Sticks’n Stones website.