Back in 2002 when I first dreamed up the concept for Project: Inside Out, an anti-bullying and leadership program for teens, I knew that the concept of respecting yourself first would create a greater understanding of and with others, if little kids would learn and practice the lessons right from the start.
I began working with teens first and later brought programs to the Middle School, all the while adjusting the method of teaching so that it was appropriate for that particular age and grade. This week, Project: Inside Out was finally introduced in a puppet show in the Charlotte Lappla elementary school in my community.
The puppet show, entitled Toucan Be Happy, was about a Toucan that moved to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon from the Rain forests of South America. Needless to say, two of the local animals, Felix the fox and Rikki the raccoon, mercilessly teased Tiki toucan for being different. Without giving away all of the story, I can tell you it has a happy ending, thus the title.
This week while putting on the shows with my protege, Ashley, a high school student and previous Project: Inside Out grad, who has taken on this program as her senior project, we both were very pleased to see that these little people understood the concept of when we think positive things about ourselves, we will be our best in the way we treat others. They also understood how when we are not feeling good about ourselves, we are more likely to pick on others. It is our choice and it will always feel good to be kind, since that is how we naturally are.
My dream is that more and more little humans will learn this lesson right from the start, and practice it all through their school years and into adulthood. Perhaps then the need to, tear down, insult and/or compare themselves to other humans, who are also struggling to hold on to the truth that lies within them, will shift.
My dream is that all people of all ages will someday know they cannot be compared to another and that all we have to do is remember the beautiful truth of who we are and we will see it in one another.
Simple lesson..... yes? Maybe if the new little humans get it early on, the rest of us will catch up.