Bob Knotts is the Founder and President of the Humanity Project, an organization based in Southeast Florida that uses art-driven programs to help kids tackle issues like bullying. In Bob’s own words, “The Humanity Project is an effort to make a difference in the lives of children (and adults) by addressing pressing social problems in ways that build feelings of cooperation rather than competition and also encourage feelings of self-value.” Bob answered our Q&A and talked about his experience as an advocate:
What has been your journey to becoming an advocate for youth?
I’m the author of 24 books, most of them for children. I also have written five plays including a commissioned play on teen suicide. This work, along with my personal reflections over many years, led me to the idea that the world is such a mess because we as individuals are a mess. We are hard on ourselves, we mistrust ourselves, we attack ourselves.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about bullying?
That it’s “only kids being kids.” It never was. Bullying leaves scars that last a lifetime, often deep and painful wounds. I know because I was bullied as a child. Bullying always was a serious problem. Today the problem is more serious than ever because of cyberbullying and the prevalence of weapons in schools.
Can you describe one moment where you really knew you made a difference for your cause?
In November 2008, the Humanity Project organized and led what turned out to be the nation’s first mass children’s march against bullying. It was called the “Thousand Youth March for Humanity,” but the event actually attracted more than 2,100 people, mostly kids in grades K – 12. It was a huge success and demonstrated to many folks that there is a reservoir of good will available to help prevent bullying.
What can everyday people do to help spread awareness of the issues youth face?
Support good causes that address key issues, for one thing. Money is always needed. So are good and committed volunteers. Also, people can make sure any kids in their lives at any level always know they are free to be themselves without judgment.
If you could make one change to how we deal with troubled youth, what would it be?
We would teach all youths that there’s nothing wrong with them as human beings – and help them understand that it’s possible to love and accept themselves.
What are the biggest obstacles you face in advocating for youth?
Financial challenges often limit the scope of what we can do. More monetary support is needed. Also schools and parents that sometimes refuse to acknowledge the problems that their kids are dealing with … and so are less open to good programs that can help.
How do you keep from burning out and losing hope?
I believe passionately in the future of humanity, what Dr. Jacob Bronowski called “the ascent of man” in his great book of the same name. I try to take a long view of things and to keep our work as well as my own life in perspective.
What’s your favourite bullying WT design and product?
The No Bull throw pillow cover – we may have to get some of these to hand out to our kids!
You can find more information on the Humanity Project here:
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