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Published on Nov 18, 2013
After seeing his younger brother bullied, Matthew Kaplan, 16, took advocacy to a heroic level by creating the anti-bullying peer experiential program, The Be ONE (Open to New Experiences) Project. Through this journey, Matthew discovered his passion: Building community and fostering a positive school culture.
He researched anti-bullying programs targeting middle schoolers, but could only find high school programs and believes that "the damage" is done by that age. "It's been ingrained, become habit. You have to get them in middle school -- that's when they're figuring out their sense of self," Matthew said.
Without an example, Matthew decided to create a middle school anti-bullying program using peer pressure in a positive way. "What if it were cool to be kind?" he preaches enthusiastically.
The Be ONE Project is a "positive peer pressure" program. It starts with fun exercises, like holding hands in a big circle and passing a hula hoop around without letting go of hands. There's joy and lots of laughing. Kids get to know each other and make connections
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