We love to see women championing other women… In the past few years, we’ve loved watching as girl gangs from I Am That Girl to The Giving Keys find a voice in the female-o-sphere, inspiring women everywhere to become their own real-life role models.
Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson are the co-founders and real-life besties behind Kind Campaign, an organization launched to reach young girls on the issue of girl-on-girl “crime.” As every female who has ever trudged through junior high hallways knows, “Mean Girls” is much more than a cute film plot. Almost all of us have a crazy tale of the emotional cruelty we women are capable of putting one another through, especially in those late school years.
Lauren and Molly are addressing the issue in a way we love, forcing the topic into peer discussions with their Kind Campaign assemblies and using influencers across social media to help spread the “you can sit with us” brand of messaging as simply as any other timely trend from nail art to flower crowns.
We interviewed these two about a few of their kindest experiences as they set out on another school assembly campaign, learn more about their journey and message and catch them taking over our Instagram feed today from the road!
The Chalkboard Mag: How did the Kind Campaign get started?
Lauren Paul & Molly Thompson: Kind Campaign was birthed out of the initial stages of filming our documentary, Finding Kind. We started making the film back in 2008, before bullying became the hot topic that it is today. We had no idea if people would be willing to open up on camera about this issue. However, the moment we turned those cameras on, it was so blatantly apparent that girls and women had been waiting for someone to take this issue out from under the rug and start a conversation about it. It was those initial interviews for the film that inspired us to do more. At that point, we kinda looked at each other and realized this could be such a huge movement and that’s when we started developing our school assemblies and curriculum and ultimately founded Kind Campaign in February of 2009. Since its founding, Kind Campaign has been regarded as the premier anti-bullying movement for girls and has impacted hundreds of thousands of students. The two of us have spoken in around 360 schools across North America and Kind Campaign Assemblies now take place in schools almost every day of the school year. We are currently on our 10th Founder’s Assembly Tour where we will be speaking in 30 schools across America for National Bullying Awareness Month!
TCM: What was the kindest moment you experienced in school yourselves?
LAUREN: I went through a traumatic experience in middle school. In 7th grade, a group of girls started a rumor about me and the rumor ended up turning into two years of torture. When that initial rumor was started, one girl decided not to go along with the group. She stopped being friends with all those girls and she stood by my side throughout 7th and 8th grade. We pretty much ended up being each other’s only friends. She went through a lot of horrible things with me because she didn’t want to be a bystander and because she was courageous enough to stand up for me. That girl, Lacey White, is still my best friend to this day. She was the maid of honor in my wedding. It goes to show you that by being kind and standing up for someone while you’re in school, you can create a friendship that can last a lifetime.
MOLLY: During my junior year of high school, I went through a really difficult and emotional time with a group of girls. My school was huge, so the few friends that I did have, I didn’t really see in the hallways. So, I dreaded coming to school every single day. I feared lunchtime even more because we had off-campus lunch that was divided into three different class periods. That specific group of girls and I shared the same lunch, so I typically would just go and sit in my car and eat by myself because I feared running into them at any of the local restaurants. One of my guy friends knew that this was happening, and on especially emotional days he would skip the class that fell during my lunch period and instead he would come and eat lunch with me so that I wasn’t alone. I don’t know if he realizes how much that meant to me, but his simple act of kindness was one of the things that gave me the courage to continue stepping back onto campus.
TCM: Tell us about a student you’ve met or impacted along your journey with Kind Campaign. I’m sure you’ve met so many!
Lauren & Molly: There are so many, we wouldn’t even know where to start! Here is a pretty special story from one of our assemblies last year. Rachel is a girl we met during our last spring tour while in Utah. At the end of all of our assemblies, we take a picture with the group of girls we are speaking to and post the picture on Kind Campaign’s social media. We were scrolling through the girls’ comments on their school photos and came across this comment from Rachel:
“I was at the Kind Campaign assembly at Draper Park. You guys really changed my point of view on everything. I can relate to everyone in the film. Every girl friend I’ve had, I have lost. This morning when I woke up I was thinking about committing suicide. I came to school today on the verge of tears. Once I got in and sat down I wasn’t really paying attention but once I watched the movie and I was in tears. I came up and shared my Kind Card. It was about one of my best friends. He stood by me through all my hard times. Once I got home I realized that even though some girls can be rude and don’t understand what their words can do that it shouldn’t be worth dying over. I called my best friend and talked to him for an hour. I was just crying my eyes out. Your assembly today? Yeah, it saved my life.”
We were really moved after reading that and immediately connected with her through Instagram and offered further support with our in-house counselor. Our on-call therapist counsels girls and parents who write to Kind Campaign and need extra conversation and support. This service is free of charge. We ended up sending Rachel a gift while we were on the road, a card and a Giving Keys necklace so that she knows she is not alone. Since that assembly, we have received updates from Rachel and she is happy, healthy and doing so well!
TCM: Who is the kindest girl boss you know?
Lauren & Molly: Jessica Weiner, confidence expert/author/girl-world guru and Caitlin Crosby, founder of The Giving Keys!
TCM: The kindest celeb?
Lauren & Molly: Aaron Paul. First of all, he is the kindest hubby ever (Editor’s note: Lauren Paul is married to actor, Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame.) Secondly, Aaron has gone above and beyond to use his platform to help us spread the word about Kind Campaign and to share other stories that he feels passionately about. A couple years ago, he threw an event for the series finale of Breaking Bad and he turned the event into a fundraiser for Kind Campaign. He spent countless hours, helping raise over a million dollars for Kind Campaign, which completely changed the game for the nonprofit and has allowed us to provide Kind Campaign Assemblies free of charge to hundreds of schools throughout the world.
TCM: How to kill with kindness:
Lauren & Molly: Remember that everyone has a story. You have no idea what someone comes to school with or what they go home to when the bell rings. Use your voice. When you see someone being bullied, stand up for them. Don’t participate. When you hear rumors and gossip swirling, don’t let yourself be a part of it.
TCM: What is the kindest thing other girls in school can do for each other. Tell us about part of your practical message when you’re with students…
Lauren & Molly: Let each other live in peace at school. Don’t be a part of the drama and the gossip. Stand up for others when you see them being bullied. Sit with that girl or boy that you see sitting alone at lunch every day and ask them how they’re doing. Smile. Use social media wisely and kindly. Remember that the words you type onto your phone or a computer will have just as much of an impact on the person as if you were saying those words directly to their face. When a conflict arises, talk about it. Don’t go to your friends and talk about a problem you are having with someone…that will just start a huge web of drama. Sit down with the person, talk about the issue, find a way to resolve it and move on. Simply be kind and respectful to your peers.
TCM: The kindest thing grown-up girlfriends can do for friends experiencing unkindness?
Lauren & Molly: Listen. We live in such a fast-paced, self-consumed world. Being a friend that your friends know will unplug and listen or be a shoulder to cry on is a lot more rare in adult life than you may think.
TCM: The moment of kindness that changed your life:
Lauren: Before beginning our journey with Finding Kind, I sat down with Tom Shadyac, an incredible director and human being who I had the pleasure of working for on his beautiful documentary I Am. Over frozen yogurt, I told Tom about the documentary we wanted to make. He asked how much the film would cost and then and there, he wrote a check for the whole budget. That funding gave us the ability to start shooting our film right away and without the wave that Finding Kind created, who knows if Kind Campaign would be what it is today. To say he changed my life would be an understatement. His kindness has helped change the lives of hundreds of thousands of girls across the world.
Molly: I feel like every day brings countless moments of kindness that change my life, from something as simple as someone letting me over in bumper-to-bumper traffic to something bigger like a friend going completely out of their way to cheer me up. Even though these may seem like small things, they are the things that have the ability to change your perspective or mood on any given day, which then changes the way that you make decisions, how you interact with others, and how well you do your job. And when those things add up, they ultimately have a huge impact on the course of your life.
TCM: The kindest thing a stranger has ever done for you:
Lauren: I have experienced kindness from so many strangers throughout my life. Whether it’s opening the door for me, helping me find the answer to a question or just smiling as they walk by, those acts of kindness can completely change my day.
Molly: We encounter random acts of kindness from strangers all the time while traveling for Kind Campaign. Whether it be someone surprising us and buying our coffee, helping to fix a flat tire, or giving me an impromptu hair cut. Given the opportunity, people really do go out of their way to be kind and I believe that is because it has the ability to not only change the person’s life that you are being kind to, but ultimately it has the ability to change your life. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you know you’ve had a positive impact on someone’s day – whether they are your best friend or a complete stranger.
TCM: The kindest city you’ve ever been to?
Lauren & Molly: They are all amazing! We feel so lucky that our work allows us to travel into hundreds of cities across North America and that we have had the opportunity to get to know so many people across the nation. Every place we go welcomes us with open arms, whether it be a big city or a tiny town. One of the many things we walked away with after our two-month road trip across America to shoot Finding Kind was that our country is indescribably beautiful and so are the people who live in it.
TCM: Your fave quote on kindness:
Lauren: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
Molly: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa