She dropped out of high school due to bullying, so she started a kindness movement
Abbey Perl launched the Kind Mind Collective to give students across the country a space where they feel they belong.
Bullying and harassment have affected my life ever since I can remember. I was treated poorly and felt like I didn’t belong. On one occasion, I remember that my twin brother and I were called the “most annoying twins” in our grade by a peer. Soon after this, I dropped out of high school and decided to get my GED. High school was not a safe or welcoming environment for me, and I felt nothing was being done to help this.
However, I came to a realization that was closely rooted to my harassment. Throughout our lives, we are always taught negative behaviors and what isn’t right, but we’re never reinforced what the good behaviors are. People think it’s common sense to “just be kind,” but it’s more complicated than just that. Kindness must be taught and reinforced. At Union Elementary School, students and teachers saw improvement to their schools’ overall climate when introducing rewards to acts of kindness, rather than passing out detentions.
I thought that this was something that needed to be shared with every single person in the world. So, I decided to turn my struggles into something that can help others. In 2016, I founded the Kind Mind Collective to change the way we communicate kindness and compassion in our communities.
The Kind Mind Collective is dedicated to the development of kindness, compassion, and empathy to supplement and support K-12 educational institutions. We are dedicated to creating a kind and accepting world using programs, materials, and events, and workshops that teach human connection. By providing education, resources, opportunities, and spaces to K-12 students, our goal is for these communities to foster kindness, compassion, and unity.
People think it’s common sense to “just be kind,” but it’s more complicated than just that. Kindness must be taught and reinforced.
However, another major issue arose in my kindness journey. I began to reflect on my own experiences and started to ask myself, “Why wasn’t I getting the help I deserved? Why did no one take me seriously?” I had come to the conclusion that education around these issues was barely present and hardly relatable. Adults within the school environment had a completely different idea around what bullying is compared to what was actually happening with the students. There was a huge disconnect between the student body and the adults who are there to make the school environment a safe, welcoming space. I thought this was unfair for others who had or are struggling as I had.
I knew that we had to find a solution to this issue, and wanted the Kind Mind Collective to be different. So, we vowed that our programs were created by young people, for young people. Since this, we’ve created award-winning programming, including “Life On The Outside,” an anti-bullying comic-book that follows Asher Phoenix and their everyday struggles that come with being a non-binary, person of color. We use this comic book as an educational tool across the country, in assemblies, workshops, and more. So far, we’ve impacted hundreds of communities and thousands of students with our programming tailored towards young people, and continue to do so throughout the years.
Overall, I am proud of where I have come since I was a victim of bullying. Unfortunately, bullying does affect people every single day and is more complex beyond my work. According to stopbullying.gov, kids who are bullied can feel like they are different, powerless, unpopular, and alone. However, when reinforcing kindness, it can make victims feel uplifted while promoting safer, more inclusive environments and communities.
Interested in learning more about our organization and our programming? Visit kindmindcollective.org for more information.
Kind Mind Collective
Perl is also the co-author of “Life On The Outside”, an anti-bullying comic-book following high-schooler Asher Phoenix and their struggle with bullying and their non-binary identity. This tool is used across schools and universities around the country to better educate youth about bullying.
The comic has been recognized by organizations such as I See Bullying and #ICanHelp and celebrities such as Fall Out Boy. Perl has also been recognized as a Her Campus 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Woman and has talked about these experiences in her 2018 TEDx talk in Wilmington, Delaware.