Children and Youth prove that simple acts of caring change our world.
Children and youth “get” the meaning and the value of the Caring Coins
Through the years thousands of Caring Coins have been shared with and by youths of all ages around the world. Somehow the simplicity of the Caring Coins and their message resonates with them.
I MATTER, YOU MATTER: Let’s Start the Conversation
The Caring Coins were an important tangible part of the I MATTER, YOU MATTER: Let’s Start the Conversation Program initiated by the YANAF (You Are Never Foundation)was designed to start the conversation that each person matters. A positive approach to bullying, it was the result of brainstorming with over 720 students about ways to open the door to conversation about caring and respect for self and each other. The students themselves came up with the questions which they felt could improve communications with kids, faculty, with family members and others to share about themselves, each other, their dreams and how they can make a difference in our world. The I Matter, You Matter: Let’s Start the Conversation Program was implemented in many schools throughout Vermont, the country and some around the world.
Abby’s Story about bullying and how she shared “I matter, You matter, Let’s Start the Conversation” at her school illustrates how it worked:
Hello! My name is Abby and I’m currently about to finish my junior year at Thetford Academy. I am sharing my story and YANAF’s I Matter, You Matter “Let’s Start the Conversation” Program to help fight against bullying and the feeling of being alone.
I first heard about The You Are Never Alone Foundation my sophomore year of high school when I was chosen to go to the HOBY VT leadership conference. During this conference a number of guest speakers spoke about their organizations and inspiring messages. Out of all of the speakers, one stood out in particular: Salley Gibney of the You Are Never Alone Foundation, who spoke about YANAF’s “You are never alone” and “I Matter, You Matter” messages and their “Let’s Start the Conversation” Program as a positive approach to bullying.*
*I could easily relate to the YANAF messages...
…because throughout middle school I was bullied, and I always felt alone. I did not have friends to turn to or anyone to get help from at my school. This feeling of being alone, out of all of the things that happened, was the hardest part of my situation. Just one person could have made such a difference.
I contacted Salley Gibney of YANAF and told her that I would like to share the Let’s Start the Conversation Program and the Caring Coins with my swim team Since the age of 9, I have swam for the Upper Valley Aquatic Club, practicing every day for up to 4 hours and competing just about every weekend across New England. Swimming has always been a huge part of my life and I have met some of the most amazing people who have always been there for me no matter what.
Let’s Start the Conversation enabled me to share my own experiences with being bullied and discuss what it was like to be alone ad have nobody support you. I explained to them what YANAF and the Caring Coins mean to me. The response was amazing. Everyone loved YANAF’s message and the Caring Coins. We all put the coins on our swim bags along with our little mementos from swim meets. I heard so much positive feedback on what the presentation meant to people and how they were taking it back to their schools and sharing the second coin with other classmates.
Ever since I gave my presentation to my swim team and saw the difference it made, I looked for ways to do it again, but had no idea of where to start. It wasn’t until my English teacher talked to me about an essay I wrote and suggested I give a presentation to the class that I found a way to share my story again.
Although I was incredibly nervous and worried about exposing myself and my story which I usually chose not to share even with my closest friends, I did agree to share my story and the Let’s Start the Conversation Program. I told how I was bullied in middle school and focused on the role of bystanders. I talked about what bystanders were and how much of a difference they can make to a person. I showed the different ways that a bystander could intervene: ranging from direct confrontation to the bully to saying a simple hello to the victim. Most people are too afraid to directly stick up for the victim and do not realize that they don’t have to in order to make a difference. Sometimes showing the victim that they are not alone and that someone cares through small acts can make even more of an impact. I related this to my story and how much a bystander could have changed it by doing something simple like this.
My presentation opened up a great discussion within my class about bullying and the ways that we could continue to fight against it. After class that day, my classmates came up to me and thanked me for helping them realize the ways that they could make a difference. Although I had my doubts about sharing my story, I don’t regret doing it at all and am so glad that I did.
I look forward to sharing my story and the Let’s Start the Conversation Program in the future to continue to help fight against bullying and the feeling of being alone.
A teacher's response:
“Since Abby’s presentation, things have really changed in class. Now everyone is much more tuned into someone sitting alone, and others have been choosing seats not to leave anyone out, and while Abby used to read a book every spare moment (like waiting for class to begin), she and others now chat away and laugh with each other. It’s pretty magical!”
Mural by Students shares the “I matter, You matter” message.
This mural with the “I Matter,You Matter” message was designed by an English as a Second Language class in Central Falls, RI. This group of newcomer students receive extra support in English, math civics and sports. The I Matter, You Matter message resonated with them so much so that they created this beautiful mural at their school for all to see. They have left a wonderful lasting impression for all to admire and enjoy.
Caring Coins are shared at the Veterans Memorial School’s SPARK Program in Providence Rhode Island!
Students at Veterans Memorial School’s SPARK Program listen as Salley Gibney shares about the “I Matter, You Matter” Program. Each student received two Caring Coins…one to keep and one to share. The students will be sharing Caring Coins with seniors at a local senior center. Caring is Contagious! Thank you Ms. Diane Russell for inviting the Caring Coins to Veterans Memorial SPARK Program.
Let’s Connect Summer Program reaches out to Veterans
“As a social worker at the Veterans Home, I know how lonely and forgotten many of the veterans feel. Many eyes lit up when youth from the Let’s Connect Project came with the caring coins. They not only brought joy that one day, the Caring Coins are a long-term reminder of their visit and a reminder that they are not forgotten. Thank you!”
The Let’s Connect Summer Program provided an opportunity for students to reach out and go beyond their peer groups to show caring and connection with the veterans at the Veterans Home in Bennington, Vermont. That was just the start. The students were inspired to provide coins to troops in other places besides their local area. Some responses to Let’s Connect Program:
“Throughout the summer I have developed a true passion for this foundation and their core values. I strongly believe that the message of hope, care and respect is one that can be spread over the world. It is a message that is so simple yet, often times forgotten about. I had the opportunity to pass some of the Caring Coins along. Words can’t describe the feeling you receive when you give someone one of these coins. Your heart feels warm and tingly and a smile instantly takes over your face. You know that you have not only preformed a selfless act of kindness but that you really have made an impression in someone else’s life…the fact that something so small and so simple can have such a strong and deep impact is unbelievable.”
“This is a way for the world to become closer and connect and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it. I think the actual handing out of the coins finally got the members excited about what this project is about. It gave us an opportunity to see why these coins are needed and really connect with those who benefited from their efforts. I enjoyed seeing the veterans become happy…they really lit up when they realized what was happening and that it was all for them.”
“…the everyday challenges we face and decisions we make are hard enough, it’s nice to know that someone cares. These coins are not just for people facing extreme tragedy or troops going into combat. They are for everyone, a little reminder that no matter what frustrations and challenges we face daily, we are never alone.”
Caring Day at MEMS, Manchester, VT
MEMS (Manchester Elementary and Middle School in Manchester, Vermont) community came together for Caring Day. I The important message of being cared for and caring for others was shared in MEMS Pre-K through grade 8 building and our greater community.It began with an assembly where the fifth graders presented information about compassion and kindness and celebrated locals for their compassionate acts. The story of the Caring Coins was shared, Through “The Compassionate Faces of the Shires Project”, locals were interviewed by students. They then created a poster highlighting them, which was displayed in the Manchester Community Library for a week. At the end of the assembly, all MEMS community members went through lines to receive a high five or a hug. They also given a sticky note to leave a kind message for someone and a Caring Coin to keep or give.
Boy Scouts received Caring Coins
Boy Scouts painted the gazebo, planted new plants, laid down mulch and donated a new bench to the Home Safe Courtyard at the Safety Net Program which houses several programs that provide assessments and therapy to victims of child abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, family violence and services to foster parents in our community. For their efforts the 13 Scouts each received a Caring Coin. They were happy that their efforts were rewarded with such a simple gesture.
Girls at a Special School Sponsor Caring Coins for Others Facing Challenges
“It feels good to do something for someone else. It gets me out of my own problems”.
Girls at a residential school for girls facing many social challenges loved the Caring Coin and its message “You are never alone” as they knew what it was like to feel alone. Initially, they shared the coins with other girls in the school. They then asked other girls in the school to join with them to sign Me to You cards for coins for the father of one of the girls to share with his unit in Iraq. The girls felt so good doing this that they wanted to share the coins with others who are facing challenges similar to themselves. They participated in assembling the Caring Coins that were sent the troops, veterans, people in hospices, hospitals and other youths around the world. This has empowered the girls to reach out to others.
Students shared Caring Coins with the Homeless
The Students in each class at an Elementary School wanted to share Caring Coins with the homeless. They raised the money in their own unique ways such as coin collections, penny wars, couch searches for change and read-a-thons. The students had fun coming up with these creative ways to raise money for children and youths who are less fortunate than themselves showing how much they care about others. The students realized that although the weather would get warmer, the needs of the Homeless would not go away.
Veterans Day at Molly Stark Elementary School
“It’s so nice to know these kids appreciate us…this little wooden coin will remind me they were here”
Students shared Caring Coins with the Veterans following a wonderful Veterans Day Performance which was thoroughly enjoyed by the Veterans and the Staff.
Graduation Ceremony at Spaulding High School in Barre, Vermont
“Getting an I Matter, You Matter coin from a teacher at graduation that had helped us through such a big part of our lives meant a lot to me. It was nice to know that I truly matter to a teacher, and it was a nice surprise to everyone that an act of kindness was occurring on such a momentous day!”
Faculty members shared an “I matter…You matter” Caring Coin along with a personal reflection with each Graduate prior to them receiving their diplomas at Graduation at a high school in Barre Vermont. This ceremony touched students, faculty and parents alike so much that it is repeated each year.
Camp Agape, Vermont:
“I don’t think I’ll ever take this off.”
—a camper at Camp Agape
These words from a camper at Camp Agape, a camp in Cabot, Vermont for children who have experienced having a parent in prison resonate how the Caring Coins are a tangible reminder of the caring, connection and hope they receive at Camp Agape. Camp Agape is a place where these children can be themselves and have fun. They are with other kids experiencing what they are experiencing. The campers participate in discussions, games, and crafts focusing on caring, respect for self and each other. Each camper receives a Caring Coin for themselves and additional coins to Pass On. Frequently, a camper shared a Caring Coin with another camper they felt was having a difficult time. Many campers returned with their coins from previous years which reflects what Camp Agape and the Caring Coins meant to them.
The Mudslide in Oso, Washington
“It means so much to know someone understands and cares about us.”
—a student in Oso
Some students from Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont, remembered the devastation of hurricane Irene in Vermont. When they learned about the mudslide in Oso, Washington they wanted the people there to know they understood, they cared about them.They had shared Caring Coins in the past and now wanted to share them with the folks in Oso. They invited other students in their school to sign caring cards which were attached to Caring Coins they sent to the mud slide victims in Oso, Washington.
Students share Caring Coins with street girls in Mexico
“It feels good to know we are helping other girls who don’t have what we have.”
Students at MEMS, Manchester Elementary and Middle School in Manchester, Vermont raised money and collected items for a “Program in Mexico City, Mexico” helping girls who are living in the streets. The students shared their mission with all of the schools in the area. The response was amazing. I Matter, You Matter Caring Coins and cards and written words of caring and hope on posters were also shared with the girls as reminders of their caring connections.
Veterans Day at Molly Stark Elementary School
“It’s so nice to know these kids appreciate us…this little wooden coin will remind me they were here.”
Students shared I Matter, You Matter Caring Coins with the Veterans following a wonderful Veterans Day Performance which was thoroughly enjoyed by the Veterans and the Staff.
Caring Coins at One Billion Rising
College students shared hundreds of Caring Coins throughout Vermont at the One Billion Rising Events on Valentine’s Day to protest violence against women around the world as tangible reminders that each person does matter.