The Kindness Campaign
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring. All of these have the potential to turn a life around.”
The Kindness Campaign has become one of my very favorite platforms because I truly believe mental health education, self-care, and emotional support are a few of life’s most important variables. This campaign focuses on life-saving emotional health curriculum and teaches in-class and at-home stories. These stories, journals, lessons, and workshops begin at the young age of 3 years old. The Kindness Campaign aims to normalize emotional health in hopes that the younger generation communicates, connects, and leads differently. They realize bullying, loneliness, and isolation exist, however, instead of allowing these things to go unnoticed, provide positive and accessible tools that promote emotional health.
Below are three interesting facts you might not know about mental and emotional health:
- Today’s school-age children are the first generation in over 100 years to experience a global pandemic.
- According to the CDC, almost 1 in 3 students persistently felt sad or hopeless over the past year.
- Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among teenagers.
“We have the power to improve outcomes for young people by improving their emotional health.”
Q and A with TKC founder and CEO Andra Liemandt
About Andra Liemandt:
Andra is the founder and CEO of The Kindness Campaign, a nonprofit that provides emotional health tools beginning at age 3. Launched in 2015, TKC’s critical SEL (social-emotional learning) curriculum and programs serve schools and families, utilizing storytelling, creative arts, play, and self-reflection. Under Andra’s leadership, TKC’s reach grew from five schools to 82 in two years. Today, TKC is a national platform, serving students across the country with innovative virtual and in-person offerings.
Andra is also the founder and drummer for The Mrs, a pop-rock band that has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The Queen Latifah Show,” Buzzfeed, People Magazine, and Billboard. Their viral music video, featuring their signature “Magic Mirror,” currently has 5.4 million views on YouTube. Her belief that art is a portal to emotional health is what drives her work today and informed her latest project called “Music and Kindness,” which she launched nationwide with the National Charity League.
This is where my story takes, I think, an unexpected turn… because those pages eventually became the blueprint for something much bigger than my family’s healing. I started thinking… I wonder if other young people might like this? Clearly, there are children in pain. Maybe this is a helpful tool?
I took a stack of the I Am Enough journals to take to my daughter’s school in 2015, just enough for her class. When the principal saw them, he asked – “Can I get enough of these for my campus?” Then he asked, “Can I get copies for four more campuses?”
Now, this is the point where I usually say, “and then I started The Kindness Campaign,” but I have to be honest with you, that it was more like I unleashed it. This need was already there, because people are hungry for emotional health tools, and they’re hungry for prevention.
Please share how The Kindness Campaign started.
A few years ago, a dear family friend took her own life. And tragically, this person was a child—not much older than my daughters. As you can imagine, when I heard the news… my world stopped.
We all knew this beautiful being, my daughters and I. And as a mother, this is the kind of thing that brings up the loudest, most unrelenting fear. What about my kids? How can I protect them?
We started talking, deeply, about our feelings. Sitting around our kitchen table, we started telling stories. We made notecards of our emotions, and started coming up with a sweet character who could help us with our emotions, and embarked on a little family art project that would one day become a journal. We called it “I Am Enough,” and I made a few Xeroxed copies.
Schools are asking for real guidance in this area, and as a culture, we are finally at a place where we’re taking emotional health seriously.
How have you had to pivot because of COVID?
When schools closed in March, we listened to our community and immediately launched an Emotional Health Needs Survey, so we could find out what our community needed.
In 2020, when so many organizations found themselves devastated, TKC was able to scale, launching two online stores, a library of SEL dance videos and puppet shows, and a full suite of digital curriculum. TKC now serves over 50,000 students. We relaunched our website— and along with it, launched two online stores of emotional health curriculum and tools: one for schools, and one for families.
We even created virtual workshop experiences! Most recently, we did an emotional health workshop nationwide, with the National Charity League, which is one of our partners!
What are you working on that you are excited about?
I’m SO excited about our large-scale community art project! The Kindness Campaign has teamed up with HOPE Campaign, The Texas Cultural Trust, and Amy’s Ice Creams to launch a large-scale Kind Mural project that aims to bring hope to our community and also support children’s emotional health nationwide.
We want to know, “What does kindness mean to you?” Share your answer with us, and we’ll include it on our mural, featured prominently on South Congress in Austin, TX!
What are you most proud of regarding TKC?
I’m so proud of our team and so grateful. During 2020, we’ve all learned how to ‘embrace the now.’ We’ve also been over-communicating to know who has the ball and who’s taking our (many!) projects to the finish line.
Everyone on our team has churned out product after product. It’s been really beautiful and empowering to see how we’re sustaining… and thriving! And I think it’s unique.
Tell us what a typical day looks like for you.
I don’t really have a typical day! My girls used to ask me “Is it a ‘Mrs day’ or a ‘TKC day?’” But that has shifted since COVID. Family has always been a huge priority of mine, but it’s been an especially important focus of mine in 2020. I try to assess what my family’s needs are first, before planning out the rest of my day.
I’m a maximizer of time, though!
I listen to podcasts and books while I get dressed… even when I dry my hair. (Mainly, because I hate to blow dry my hair… I mean who doesn’t!?!) – lol!!
I’m always multitasking— it’s just the way my brain works. It’s probably why I doodle on a notebook while I’m in meetings, so I stay focused on the task at hand.
During the day, I also like to squeeze in walks with my friends. It checks multiple boxes, it allows me to get up and get moving and to spend time with sweet friends.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My favorite time is typically watching movies with my family… or, right now, I’m binge-watching the Crown! My spare time is all about feeding my soul. Whether I’m finding the next best read on emotional health or listening to a Brené Brown book or podcast, I get excited about hearing things that are both inspiring and fill my cup! I also have a bible study group that’s all virtual, and I enjoy working out with friends.
Really, I’m a small, intimate gatherer. That’s how I like utilizing my time, and it’s also another way I feed my soul in conversations with friends and family.
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