Stars lend shine in drive for kindness

Date: 19-Oct-2020
Publication: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: Nearly a thousand students and teachers have been trained to be “Kindness Ambassadors” to spread positivity amid the Covid-19 pandemic – with help from some of the country’s most famous celebrities.

The online-based #StandTogether Kindness Workshops, funded by Unicef Malaysia as part of R.AGE and S P Setia’s #StandTogether Kindness Movement, has reached eight states so far, receiving glowing reviews from students and teachers who have participated.

“I feel a lot more educated on empathy and kindness after this workshop, ” added Pritika Nagaraj, 15, a student from SMK Convent Green Lane, Penang.

“Bullying is something we see around us all the time and we can feel like giving up, but workshops like these encourage us to take action, and overcome these challenges.”

“I am looking forward to sharing this experience with my friends, and am going to encourage them to be kinder to others, ” said Jamal Harith, a student participant from SMK Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur.

A special session is also aimed at teachers, who are given training on how to impart kindness and empathy to students, and to practise positive reinforcement instead of resorting to physical or emotional punishment.

“I am very happy the workshop has continued despite the change in circumstances, and this year there’s focus on developing empathy, which is really important, ” said SMK Paduka Tuan teacher Salzul Rahman, 38.

“My students are more aware of the nuances of bullying and I hope, moving forward, this workshop can be expanded further.”

The Kindness Workshops, endorsed by the Education Ministry, is a free online gathering for students with interactive games and activities to improve their empathy skills.

Workshops end with surprise appearances and motivational conversations by #StandTogether celebrity ambassadors such as Jinnyboy, Arwind Kumar, Lisa Surihani, Harith Iskander, Ismail Izzani, Nik Qistina, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and more.

Schools and individual students can join by signing up for free at www.standtogether.my/kindnessworkshop. Certificates and co-curricular points are available for participants.

The #StandTogether National Kindness Week campaign was founded in 2017 by R.AGE and S P Setia to kickstart a “Kindness Revolution” in Malaysia, after becoming alarmed at the level of violence against children both in schools and online.

“It is easy to forget about kindness in the midst of this pandemic where many parents struggle with the uncertainties ahead for the families, ” said S P Setia head of group branding and communications Adelene Wong.

“These workshops are crucial reminders to our children and ourselves – that a little kindness, no matter how small, may have the biggest impact on others, ” she added.

This year’s Kindness Workshop programme was developed by empathy training experts Tribeless, and delivered by education programme organisers Study Hub Asia.

“We’re big believers in making empathy as practical and actionable as possible, so we integrated lots of experiential learning into the programme, and 90% of it are discussions, games and storytelling in small groups, ” said Tribeless founder Wong Gwen Yi.

“From the workshop, we found that bullying can happen to anyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender and seniority in school, ” said Study Hub co-founder Brian Law.

“A lot more needs to be done to promote empathy and kindness to break the cycle of violence against children.”

Ten more Kindness Workshop sessions are scheduled in October and early November, and will be open to all schools in Malaysia.

Unicef Malaysia will organise two sessions specially for individual participants (open to all below 25), as part of its KitaConnect youth network on Telegram, on Nov 3 and 4. Registration is at www.standtogether.my/kindnessworkshop-public.

R.AGE and S P Setia are also running the #StandTogether Kindness Leadership Programme, an online fellowship for all students from now until the year’s end, during which students can pitch for up to RM1,000 in a grant for Kindness Projects in their schools.

To sign up for all #StandTogether programmes, go to www.standtogether.my.

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