My name is Matthew Kaplan. I am 19 years old from Phoenix, Arizona. I love going to yoga, I practice yoga, probably every day. Love walking my dog Macy, she is so cute.
When my younger brother Josh, was victim of cyberbullying in her middle school, that’s when I realized that this is an issue. I realized that middle school’s a tough time, it’s a tough time for everyone. But there is a lot of pressure to fit in, to be cool.
This injustice is important to me because it’s unacceptable that 3.2 Million kids are bullied every year. And my brother Josh was one of them. My insight was that, we think about Bullying in a completely wrong way. When we think about bullying, we think of a bad person. But, bullying is not about bad people. It’s actually just bad behaviors. And those are behaviors that can change, And so I realized that the approach that we had to take is not anti-bullying; it’s community-building. And in doing community-building, we are able to bring in teachers, parents, students, and Administrators; all to be a part of a solution, not the problem.
My solution was to create an interactive program called The BeONE Project. They have games, activities, and discussions to help create community and empathy among kids. The thought here is that kids listen first. In order to put peace first, we have to listen first. And that’s the way that we can create community and to end bullying.
The moment that I realized that there was potential with this idea, is when I saw my younger brother receiving an apology from the kids that were bullying him. And what I learned is that I shouldn’t be afraid to take the first step.
I’ve talked to the young people from around the country and I know that we are ready to change the world as peacemakers right now.