This Saturday, Oct. 6, the third annual Laguna Beach Bullying Awareness Event will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the cobblestone area of Main Beach in downtown Laguna, hosted by local nonprofit, the Ability Awareness Project.
The event comes on the heels of the Laguna Beach City Council voting last month to pursue becoming a “World Kindness USA” city. The World Kindness City designation is part of the broader World Kindness Movement (WKM), which started in Singapore in 2000. The 28 countries of WKM use a variety of initiatives in their quest to “connect nations to create a kinder world.” Locally, Ability Awareness Project is a founding member of World Kindness USA.
To earn World Kindness recognition, a city must meet 10 criteria called Kindness Performance Indicators (KPI). The first is a resolution, at a full council meeting, declaring support for endeavors that create a kinder world. Other KPIs include placing World Kindness Week (or day) on the city calendar and using World Kindness Cards to record acts of positivity.
Event organizers are encouraging participants on Saturday to turn off their cell phones and make human connections throughout the day. For one minute or more, attendees are asked to make eye contact with a stranger, hold hands, offer a hug if another person wants one, meditate together and wish others love, hope and healing.
Participants will also have the opportunity to leave a message on a “kindness wall,” and take a message of kindness if they need it. In addition, the day will feature live music and puppet shows for kids.
The event will include special guests such as Amber Mezner, a 16-year-old model and teen activist who is known for fighting against bullying on social media channels like Snapchat. Mezner was bullied in middle school with kids photographing her and putting her on their social media sites, constantly harassing her, and using her social media status to make fun of her. She is now homeschooled.
“Amber Mezner and her mom Alina now spend many hours giving advice on the app Snapchat to teens who have been bullied and send out messages and advice daily to stop this out of control issue,” event organizers said in a press release. “Amber now puts out her message both on Snapchat and Instagram as an influencer to help teens love themselves enough to just be themselves, and not be afraid to be different.”
Council member Steve Dicterow will also be in attendance. Dicterow has been an ardent proponent of the kindness movement in Laguna, noting that he was motivated to initiate change in the community after witnessing widespread hostility during the 2016 election cycle.
Michael Lloyd-White, chief advisor to the Board of World Kindness USA, will also be in attendance.
In addition, the organization’s “Kindness Cat,” named Aragon the Cat, will make an appearance. Aragon is best known for his five-year role as Lord Tubbington on the Emmy award-winning show “Glee.”
For more information on Saturday’s event, the Ability Awareness Project, and the World Kindness Movement, visit www.kindandsafeschools.org.