Finding Kind at NDA


Mallory Kaster, Senior Staff Writer

“It doesn’t cost anything to be kind.”

That was the idea behind the documentary “Finding Kind” and the Kind Campaign.

On Thursday, April 3, Notre Dame students and their families gathered in the NDA auditorium for a showing of the film.

The event was put on by NDA’s Human[Kind] and Allies for Positive Parenting, also known as APP2. Both groups are focused on bully prevention.

“We are a student group at Notre Dame Academy that promotes the idea of [Kind],” reads the Human[Kind] mission statement. “It can be so easy to forget the importance of treating yourself and others with kindness—we are here to help remind and promote the idea of internal and external kindness.”

APP2, on the other hand, is a parent-initiated and directed group focused on ways to assist parents in supporting students.

Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer, the assistant director of the Cassandra Voss Center at St. Norbert College, and the evening’s facilitator began by asking everyone present to raise their hand if they had ever been negatively affected by something someone else said. Everyone raised his hand.

She asked everyone to keep their hand raised if they had ever been the one to cause someone else to feel negatively about themselves. The hands stayed raised.

She said that the documentary is not about pointing the finger at others, but rather pointing the finger at ourselves and our actions, because we have all been a bully at some point.

After this brief introduction, the film began.

The idea started in February 2009 when two young girls attending Pepperdine University recognized a problem and decided to do something about it.

Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, both affected by female bullying, decided to create a documentary and non-profit that would ultimately change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across America.

The movie began with girls across the country entering the “Truth Booth” and discussing their experiences with bullying. The girls ranged in age from about 9 to 18.

Then Parsekian and Thompson discussed their own experiences and why they decided to start the Kind Campaign.

“Finding a way to stop girl-against-girl ‘crime’ from happening is something that has been on my heart since I was twelve years old,” Parsekian said. “For me, the hardest time was middle school, when a group of my girl friends turned on me. I can still vividly recall every torturous experience they put me through throughout 7th and 8th grade.”

Parsekian then discussed how the bullying started to affect her in all aspects of her life. “I became scared to go to school, my grades started to drop, I was scared to answer the phone, and finding places to hide on campus became a daily routine,” she said. “Through this time I battled depression and got to the point where I tried to take my own life in seventh grade. I know firsthand how much it hurts to be called names, to be threatened and to feel like you are all alone.”

Thompson was also bullied in middle school. So on September 1, 2009, the girls packed a minivan with their cameras and moms and embarked on a 10,000 mile long journey across the country “with the hope of establishing a national school program for girls.”

The documentary follows Parsekian and Thompson on their journey, beginning and ending in Southern California. They stopped in some major cities along the way, including Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York.

The size of the city made no difference, however, when it came to the presence of bullying. Girls in every city had been affected in some way. Most were bullied because of looks, intelligence, popularity and jealousy. Common slurs used were “ugly,” “fat” and “slut.”

Some older girls entered the Truth Booth and finally released the pain they had been keeping in for years. “I never told anyone how much it hurt,” one girl said.

Younger girls discussed how they had been bullied for many years already. Andrea, a 12-year-old, said she used to be confident, but after being bullied, she doesn’t really talk anymore.

At each stop, Parsekian and Thompson talked to the girls, handed out Kind bracelets, and distributed three separate sheets of paper: a Kind Pledge, a Kind Apology and a Kind Card.

After the film finished, students and parents who attended the event at NDA had the opportunity to fill out these cards as well.

The Kind Pledge begins with, “I KINDly pledge to…” and lets people fill in the rest. The Kind Apology is for individuals who have ever wanted to apologize to someone for something they said or did. The Kind Card is an opportunity to give someone a compliment.

When attendees were finished filling out the cards, Czarnik-Neimeyer led a discussion, asking those present to share what they wrote down. She also shared her experience with bullying. One event in particular stands out to her.

In middle school, when she was boarding a new bus for the first time, a student on the bus yelled to her, “Nobody likes you!” Her self confidence already low, Czarnik-Neimeyer was feeling pretty bad until another student on the bus yelled, “I like her and my name’s not Nobody!”

That’s when Czarnik-Neimeyer realized that all it took was one friend who stood up for you to change your entire perspective.

After further discussion about the film, campus minister Daniel Kriegl led everyone in prayer, and the event concluded.

Although the event was technically concluded, talk continued among attendees after leaving NDA’s walls.

“I thought it was an excellent documentary,” senior Jessie Staed said. “One thing that people should do before saying something to someone is ask themselvesif what they are about to say could negatively affect that person.”

“Every human being is sacred and we should be treating each other that way,” she continued.

Although Staed doesn’t think bullying is a big problem at Notre Dame, she still thinks there are points when it is questionable, making the showing of the documentary worthwhile.

An idea that began at Pepperdine University now spans the entire country. Parsekian and Thompson have gone on three national tours, spreading their school assembly program and documentary film in hundreds of schools and communities across the United States.

Linda Daugherty, playwright and author of the play “The Secret Life of Girls,” encompasses the idea of the movement in one sentence.

“We may not all be beautiful, we may not all be smart, we may not all be talented, but we CAN all be kind.”

Link to trailer:

Link to website: