Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Birth of a Movement

My love for Lady Gaga is no secret, but since the launch of her new “Born This Way Foundation,” I have even more reason to sing her praises. Last month, Lady Gaga shared the stage of Sanders Theatre at Harvard with Oprah Winfrey to launch what she calls a movement to “challenge meanness and cruelty by inspiring young people.” It is more than an anti-bullying campaign but a youth empowerment campaign that aims to change an entire culture.

The three pillars of her campaign are safety, skills, and opportunity. She aims to create a culture in which every person feels safe, has the skills to stand up for one another, and uses the opportunities that arise to spread the message of tolerance.

Probably my favorite moment from the launch event was when Alyssa, a very brave young person who was a member of the opening panel, was asked to explain what she does at school. She said, “I try to set an example...then the rest will follow.” Telling stories of success will be an important part of what the foundation does.

There has been a lot of attention paid recently to cyber-bullying because of its visibility, but statistics show that the most common type of bullying is still face-to-face. Incidentally, the foundation is partnering with Blue State Digital to use social media to spread the message of love and acceptance.

I applaud Lady Gaga’s efforts to reach out to experts, disseminate information, and begin interdisciplinary dialogues. Her partners include the MacArthur Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Deepak Chopra, and psychologist Susan Swearer all participated in her launch event.

This foundation intends to improve the health and well being of young people from the bottom up. Lady Gaga understands this will take time. Tell a friend and spread the message!

Watch the launch of the Born This Way Foundation and read some notes from “The Kinder and Braver World Project” from the Berkman Center.

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