Our Favorite Moments of 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Shadille, I’m a Program Associate at Born This Way Foundation, and I had the pleasure of reviewing the thousands of photos and hours of video we collected over the last year to create the video below. In a minute and forty-eight seconds it shares some of our favorite moments from 2017 – where we’ve gone, what we’ve done, the people we’ve met, and, most importantly, the impact we’ve made.

In this collection, there were so many special moments to choose from. From school visits in my hometown of Miami, to hours spent volunteering in Texas and Oklahoma, to community discussions at Maya’s house in California, our team had a very busy year and did our best along the way to capture it, so we could share it with all of you!

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The video highlights the three projects we’re most proud of in 2017:

  • Channel Kindness: Last March we formally launched Channel Kindness, a program we’ve been dreaming about for nearly as long as there’s been a Born This Way Foundation. We recruited and trained 50 incredible youth reporters who used their eyes, ears, and – most importantly – their hearts to document nearly 150 stories of kindness.
  • Our partnership with DonorsChoose.org: We believe that there is an urgent need for more mental health education. Additionally, we know that teachers and students best know what their classrooms need. In 2017, we partnered with DonorsChoose.org to invite teachers and students to create mental and emotional wellness projects and provided $150,000 in matching funds to bring these projects to life. In all, 668 projects were fully funded, helping more than 72,000 students and supporting 486 teachers.
  • The Channel Kindness Tour: Taking advantage of the incredible opportunity to hit the road with Lady Gaga, we visited 30 cities across the US and Canada, connecting with more than 40,000 people along the way. We were in concert venues – joined nightly by our phenomenal grassroots partners. We were in communities – organizing conversations about mental health with parents and students and serving alongside 65 non-profits. We were with young people – hearing their stories, discussing their needs, and recognizing their leadership through 8 Channel Kindness Awards. And, most of all, we were doing everything that we could to be kind and be of service – listening, volunteering, and donating. It was the privilege of a lifetime and what we learned and the relationships that we built will help guide our work for years to come.

Sometimes, however, my favorite moments were the more intimate ones that only spring up when the cameras were off. It’s the face of the young person who, after a conversation on mental wellness, summons the courage to lightly whisper to me that they’re gay and that their unaccepting parents don’t know. The teen who was struggling with their gender identity who hides in the back of a photo but comes alive in conversation. The student who has the opportunity to learn and talk about their mental wellness for the first time, thanks to a teacher that went the extra mile and the generosity of a handful of people they’ll never meet.

Truthfully, if I had an image for every one of those moments, my free storage space would run out because in the past year our work has reached nearly every state (and Canada!) and touched tens of thousands of young people from coast to coast. We aren’t everywhere all at once, but we’ve invited youth – and people of any age! – to help us make the world a kinder, braver place starting in their own communities. Every. Single. Day.

With your help, we aim to create more positive environments, continue to break down the stigma of mental health, and revive the notion that kindness is cool. No matter your race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, disability – if you practice kindness, compassion, and acceptance – you are part of this mission and should take as much pride in our accomplishments as my colleagues and I do! When I say “our,” I hope you know I’m totally and 100% including you (yes, YOU) because it is only together that we will continue to build a kinder and braver world.

While I edited this video, I dove into and reflected on all that we as a foundation and as a community of extraordinary kindness warriors accomplished in 2017! Now, as I finish up this blog post, I am reminded of the new opportunities, partnerships, and programs that lie ahead.

Will you help us making this year even better than the last?

To a kinder and braver world,
Shadille