If there's one thing most of us can agree on, it's that middle school and high school were confusing — and sometimes challenging — times. And for Kind Campaign co-founders, Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson, their experiences were no exception. In fact, it was exactly these experiences that drove them to start Kind Campaign, a non-profit organization that aims to bring awareness and healing to the effects of girl-on-girl bullying.
Paul and Thompson met at Pepperdine University, but the inspiration to work together didn't come until after Paul interned on a documentary film set between her junior and senior year. "The summer going into our senior year, I shared this idea of doing a documentary together," Paul says. "This was really before bullying had become a hot topic. It was kind of a divine moment where we were like, ‘Why don’t we do something about it.’"
"I had an experience in middle school, Molly had one in high school — something that impacted both of our lives," Paul tells Bustle about their struggles with bullying. And, even though Paul and Thompson admit that they weren't sure they'd even finish the documentary — Finding Kind — it was the spark that got them thinking about something more.
"Women and girls were so vulnerable and pouring their hearts out, and that’s when the idea for school programs and assemblies and curriculums came to mind," Paul says. "Hearing those women tell heartbreaking stories from behind the camera really pushed us forward."
Paul and Thompson took over the Bustle app on March 14 to talk more about launching Kind Campaign, exciting upcoming projects, and the one thing they wish they knew when they were younger. See highlights from the takeover here:
Bustle: What's One Thing You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self?
Lauren Paul: I went through a really traumatic two years — 7th and 8th grade were so hard — and I kept it all bottled up inside. It was a really dangerous way to deal with what I was going through and I think that’s what brought me to the dark place I ended up in. When you’re in school it feels like your entire world, but you have to remember there’s so much outside of whatever that experience looks like.
Molly Thompson: The one thing I wish I knew when I was dealing with bullying is that I wasn’t alone. For me, when I was going through this, that overwhelming feeling of not having anyone to turn to. Feeling like you’re the only one in the world who knows what it feels like to be so insecure or be treated this way makes what you’re going through feel even more isolating.
B: Is There One Friendship That's Particularly Shaped Your Lives?
MT: Lauren. The fact that we came together to create Kind Campaign and do all the things we’ve done — that really has changed the course of both of our lives and landed us where we are today.
B: What Makes You So Excited About Going On Tour Every Year?
LP: If I could snap my fingers and be in a school every single day, I would do an assembly every day of my life. It is the most amazing experience. It’s connecting with these girls and spreading this message and watching them make amends with each other. We’re tackling really serious subject matters so the assemblies can be very emotional and sad at times. But what keeps us going is seeing the kindness and the positivity and the change that is created within the experience.
B: How Can Women Empower Themselves And Other Women In Their Lives Every Day?
MT: One of the interactive activities we have is Kind Cards, which gives the girls in the room the opportunity to say something kind to someone in their lives. But there's also looking for those opportunities in your everyday life and actively seeking them out. There are actually a lot of ways — big and small — that we can reach out to others and that would allow us to ultimately empower ourselves AND others in the process.
B: What Goals Do You Have For Kind Campaign For This Year — Or The Next 5 Years?
MT: We just launched our second collaboration with Kohl's and that's been really exciting. We’re very protective of the girls, and because of that our brand and who we align with. It was really cool to watch through social media to see girls and their moms going into Kohl’s together and to see not only all of these amazing, inspiring women wearing the shirts but also really getting excited to participate in the actions that are a part of the collection.
LP: In 2016 we launched a new initiative called Kind Ambassadors — right now we have almost 200 Kind Ambassadors across the globe that are actively spreading the programming. Every single year Kind Campaign has definitely grown, so our desire to just keep spreading the program is really exciting for us. This year — we haven’t officially said this but I’m just going to say it because then we’ll actually put it in motion — Molly and I have been talking about working on a book for some time, so that’s definitely a goal and something that we’re really excited about.
Check out the "Trending" stream in the Bustle app to see Kind Campaign's takeover in its entirety and get up-to-the-minute updates on absolutely everything you care about.