THE 21-DAY EMPATHY CHALLENGE
TOPICS ADDRESSED: cyberbullying, disabilities, new immigrant issues, mental health, physical and emotional bullying
An easy to follow empathy-based, anti-bullying initiative delivered to children and youth ages 8-16. The Hurt No More Empathy Challenge creates a peer-supported, environment, which naturally reduces incidences of bullying, disruptive or anti-social behavior.
The key philosophy of the Empathy Challenge is that all kids are inherently good, but demonstrate dysfunctional, anti-social behavior from time to time. With the right initiative, young people can grow into the best version of themselves.
Every day for 21 days, young people are taken on a journey of self-discovery and social awareness. Students are given the opportunity to explore their own emotions, talents and dreams while at the same time interacting in dozens of ways with their peers. They quickly realize that their future success is inextricably linked with those around them.
Although the program was established as a solution for the problem of bullying, that word really has no place of prominence here. The problem is not being ignored, it’s just that we believe in a different answer. While there is a time and place for defining a “bully” and various “acts of bullying”, most experts would agree that that is only a small piece of a grander solution. After all, how effective can one be in fighting darkness by only talking about it or defining it? Truly the only way to fight darkness is by igniting and nurturing light.
Research regarding bullying has recently focused on understudied connections between aggression and empathy. Executing a structured curriculum that strengthens experiential learning and teaches new skills via practice-based activities (which lectures alone cannot achieve) over multiple sessions. This can include critical thinking discussions and role-playing exercises, videos, testimonials, creative projects, etc.
The program implements a prosocial-emotional learning program that teaches students skills necessary to successfully navigate their interpersonal relationships and regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. These skills include but are not limited to: empathy training, communication skills, perspective taking, emotion management, problem solving and goal setting (Jones, 2012). These are all skills that benefit the kids beyond the classroom.
Examples of such skills are:
- Empathy development, perspective taking
- Identifying and understanding the feelings of self and others
- Emotion identification, regulation & management
- Learning to appreciate similarities & differences of others
- Self-management & controlling impulses
- Problem-solving & goal setting
- Focusing attention, active listening, and remembering information
- Communication skills & showing respect, being assertive while compromising
- Pro-social group cooperation, welcoming in and joining others