Imagine being a teenage girl chosen for the school basketball team. You’re excited to play, but have butterflies in your stomach on game day. The ball is in your hand, but you blow the shot. What would an unkind friend say? What would a kind friend say?
This is just one scenario discussed in the eight-week curriculum called Kindness Counts that a group of Newport Beach mothers wrote to teach kindness to girls.
“A group of us saw the documentary ‘Finding Kind’ and thought it was good at exposing the problem of meanness and bullying in girls, but left us wondering what we were supposed to do in response,” Lisa Grable recalled. “We realized we wanted to do something to prepare our girls before they went to high school.”
“We talked, prayed, and it evolved to where five of us met for four months,” Lisa continued. “We produced a practical and interactive Bible study to help girls learn authentic, Christ-like kindness.”
The five who met together were Trisha Bass, Lisa Grable, Lisa Morsey, Kathleen Risser, and Leslie Vance. Each woman had a middle school aged daughter at Mariners Christian School, and they decided to create a Biblically based response to unkindness in the world of young women. The eight-week curriculum called Kindness Counts has the stated mission to “Develop a Biblically based curriculum that will encourage and equip teen girls to navigate the world of friendship in a way that honors God.”
“I loved working with such wonderful women to help our girls navigate relationships,” Lisa Morsey said. “God used our unique gifts and we each had something different to contribute to it. There was so much great material, it was hard to pack it all in. ”
Lisa said the meetings included a teaching portion, activity sheets, role-playing, small-group discussions, take home pages, and food. Topics discussed included: decision-making, feelings of inferiority, insecurity, jealousy, envy, competitiveness and materialism. The women also wanted to help the girls to know what to look for in a friend, appreciate the unique way God designed each one, and feel secure in who God created them to be.
“The girls were great and they really liked talking in their small groups,” Lisa added. “They thought it was especially funny when the moms role played. We tried to impress on them that learning kindness is a continual process; that we’re all still learning.”
High school freshman Lauren Grable is thankful she went through the curriculum.
“What I liked about doing Kindness Counts was having my closest friends together talking about friendship and issues we may not have talked about otherwise,” Lauren said. “It helped prepare me for high school and gave me good tools to use as I go through life.”
The first time the women offered the course, they did so in the home of a participant. The second time, they offered it to all the 8th grade girls at Mariners Christian School.
“Mariners Christian School was totally supportive about doing the study there,” Kathleen Risser said. “When we approached Bob Sladek, head of the school, he couldn’t believe how perfect the timing was. He said they needed it right then, that social media and bullying were big issues”.
“Three teachers came on board,” Kathleen continued. “The teachers know the girls, and were able to get the girls to open up and share. The discussions and role-plays crossed through friend groups and cliques. Inspired by what was happening with the girls, three male Middle school teachers rewrote the curriculum and created Courage Counts, which they went through with all the 8th grade boys.”
The five original authors of the curriculum hope to publish the study so that it will be available for other schools and groups.
Cindy speaks to women’s groups and can be reached at [email protected].