+Works’ community work began in 2010 with a laser focus on bullying awareness and has now evolved into an innovative approach that encourages adults in our schools and neighborhoods to find their voice and speak up constructively on issues that keep them up at night so that children can learn to do the same. We want to encourage each other and our children to take life’s negatives, learn something and make them positive — and work for peace.
Our program is a mindset — not a curriculum. The +Family and +School programs provide a catalytic, upbeat, organic, creative process for helping families and school communities discover how they can best work together within their unique culture to raise resilient, upstanding children together. As one school counselor put it, “This is just who we should be as members of this community!” Our key tenets include:
• A community is a place where your neighbors help you raise your children. Our sense of community extends well beyond our own children’s school campus. Our community includes our neighbors, the members of nearby school communities, neighborhood faith communities, athletic and other extracurricular organizations, businesses, and professional organizations. Wherever we and our children, our students, our neighbors, and our colleagues come together to study, worship, work, and play — we have an opportunity to live, work and play more peacefully together.
• We reframe the issue of bullying as a social process — not a person. We all play the roles of bully, target, bystander — if we’re honest — making us all part of the problem and all part of the solution. +Works embraces the idea shared by +Works Board Member Emeritus Dr. Stuart W. Twemlow in his 2008 book Why School Antibullying Programs Don’t Work: “Bullies only do what bystanders allow.”
• We call for zero tolerance for adult nonaction on the issues that keep adults and children in our neighborhoods up at night: gossip, adult and student bullying, cyberaggression, underage drug and alcohol use, and hypercompetitiveness. We must learn to speak up on these tough issues as adult if we hope and expect our children to do the same in their kidworld.
• As adults, we need to model the behavior we want to see in our children and our students. Authentic community change begins early and at home. Parents/caregivers are a child’s first, best, and forever teachers. Educators and coaches are also key to this process.