While shooting Finding Kind, I (Lauren), co-founder of Kind Campaign, sat down and interviewed a girl named Amanda Martin.
Amanda was that girl in school who never got a break. She was constantly tormented… the girl who sat alone at lunch. I went to elementary through high school with Amanda. Girls and boys were so awful to her and as I interviewed her, I listened to her re-live those experiences and I saw the pain she still experienced at 22 years old as a result of what she went through. At one point during the interview she looked at me through her tears and she said, “I wish someone would have just looked at me and said, I like you and you’re okay just the way you are.”
I actually had a computer class with Amanda in high school and I befriended her in that class because I genuinely always felt bad for her and thought she was such a lovely person. However, I never took that friendship outside of the classroom because it wasn’t the “cool” thing to do. While I was interviewing her, I realized that just because I never went out of my way to be mean to her, I was just as much a part of her negative experience because I never did anything to stand up for her.
I ended up breaking down and I apologized to her because I regretted so much that I was a bystander in her life. I wished so badly in the moment that I could go back in time and stand up for her. It was such a life-changing conversation for me and for Kind Campaign and it prompted us to integrate a powerful conversation about not being a bystander within all of our future assemblies and curriculums.
The greatest part about this story is the impact this experience had on Amanda. For the first time in her life, she was able to use the darkness she faced by using her voice to share her struggle and breathe hope and light into other girls who identity with her. Since the documentary came out, Amanda has been contacted by numerous girls around the country who are so grateful for her strength to express her story. Amanda has been able to create and connect an online community of Kind Campaign supporters and has served as a voice of reason and comfort for so many girls.
My favorite part is how many boys and girls have apologized to Amanda since the film came out. People write her Facebook messages and letters and have even showed up to her work at Starbucks specifically to let her know how sorry they are for what they did to her back in school. Amanda has expressed numerous times how her experience with Kind Campaign changed and renewed her life. She is a beautiful soul who has become a poster girl for our organization and an inspiration to so many including Molly and me. – Lauren
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