Written by: Jenny with Chelsea Scoma
When Brooke and I started sheKC, we had a lot of goals. But, one of the biggest was to spread the message of kindness in hopes of starting a trend. In today's world, seems like the bad stuff catches on quickly. We've always wondered -- why can't it go the other way?!
So, we created the #sheKCkindnessproject. T-shirts with positive messages and bumper stickers that say 'You Can Sit With Us'. We feel like if you're wearing a shirt with a message about kindness, it'll change the way you carry yourself. If you see someone wearing a shirt like that, perhaps they'll seem more approachable.
Proceeds from the #sheKCkindnessproject feed right back into it.
More shirts. More stickers. More awareness.
We imagined the stickers getting into the hands of high school girls. On their laptops. Someone sitting across from them sees it. Boom. Positive vibes. New friendships. More understanding. Less judgement. Anti-bullying. Unity.
Would it work? We didn't know. But, we knew we had to try.
About a week ago, we received this photo.
The Belton High School Cheerleading Squad. With our bumper stickers! We were beyond excited! We sat down with Head Varsity Coach, Chelsea Scoma for a chat. This is an incredible story and we are so proud of this team. It takes a lot of courage to change. And that's just what they did.
Chelsea, how did you get involved with the Belton Cheerleaders?
I was a cheerleader at BHS and my goal then (15+ years ago) was to become a teacher and to coach cheer. Now, working for the Belton School District, my dream came true!
I love giving back to a program that was so important in my life. I'm also in the special education field, which has created so much of my 'you can sit with us' attitude. I'm a mother of a young girl and I see her in my cheerleaders. She looks up to them. She loves the sport. I want to pave the way for upcoming generations and girls like my daughter to come into a positive program that builds their confidence and where they are truly happy.
When you started working with the cheerleaders, the girls weren't working as a group. They disliked each other. There was no teamwork. How did you change the culture within the squad?
We practice Conscious Discipline in our school district. I work at the district's alternative school, so I really try to practice and live by these principles.
The first order of business was to teach the squad about positive intent and extending grace (i.e. that person may not have meant to speak with the attitude as you heard it... or man, they must be having a hard day, let's wish that person well). I lead by example with kindness and encouraged them to do the same.
It took a lot of modeling (i.e. she said bad things about me. Wow. She was probably feeling really upset and didn't know how to share that with me. So, let's talk about this.) But, they have learned that I am always 'solution focused' and will not get involved in the negativity. When they need help, they feel confident that I am there for a greater goal.
Talk about the positivity that is now coming from this group.
A story I like to use to show the change... two girls almost couldn't be in the same room with each other without someone yelling and someone in tears (or both). My first day as acting Varsity coach, the situation was brought to me. I worked with both girls one-on-one. We talked through their individual feelings and considered how the other girl may have been feeling. It took two weeks of discouraging the negativity and sharing 'positive intent' with them -- all of the sudden, these two girls were dancing together and riding to games with each other!
The reports of attitude, eye rolls and hurt feelings are now a thing of the past as a squad! We now have positive leaders on the squad who are able to lead a group who wants to be together.
How amazing is it for you step in to the this situation and give these girls new perspective and the tools for how to treat women?! They will carry these lessons with them for their entire lives -- how to work together and support each other! How does it make you feel to know that you have made such a difference?
I truly didn't know what to expect when I walked into this position. It was really hard at first.To see the changes affect the entire squad for the better... I just can't put that into words.
We all felt the change at the same time, during a home football game.
Together, we laughed until we cried! We got involved in the game, showed sportsmanship and celebrated. I used that first milestone of what it felt like to work together as a positive squad to teach the girls why we are working to change things and how GOOD it can feel when we are ALL on board!
I wouldn't take back the early weeks or change anything about the difficult times. I think those hardships made me love this job and these kids even more. The growth has been felt by everyone. The girls say that they feel more supported by their teammates, they have been able to work together and there's an overall change in the atmosphere.
What brought you to the #sheKCkindnessproject? How have our bumper stickers made a difference?
I saw one of your blogs from a local television station on Facebook and knew it fit in with my motto and our mission as a cheer squad to change our culture into a caring community. I love the kindness crusade and that we can share a common goal with you within our school and town!
The stickers pique a lot of interest from others... what it means... why we have them. It is lighthearted, catchy and pop culture. It also fits in with some of the tactics and sayings the high school uses (when someone isn't being kind, the kids say 'ouch - don't go there'. It's funny enough to not cause a bigger issue, yet it allows the person to stand up against something.
The girls have loved sharing the bumper sticker motto and the story of the squad. They love sharing the message.
Visit our sheSHOP by clicking here if you'd like to purchase a #sheKCkindnessproject t-shirt. If you are a part of a school, team or organization with teen girls and would like some bumper stickers or have a story to share, email us at hello@sheKClifestyle.com.
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We're all in this together.