The best way to heal a child’s broken spirit is often through the loving gestures of another child, and one local nonprofit is putting its empathy-driven mission in the hands of our youth.
Founded 10 years ago by filmmaker/activist Lysa Heslov and her husband, producer Grant Heslov, Children Mending Hearts (CMH) aims to combat bullying and intolerance by inspiring empathy in children. CMH works with schools and community organizations to help children learn to respect and celebrate differences, to be inclusive, and to recognize and stand up to prejudice and intolerance. Its programs help children understand and care for people who are different from them and who may be facing challenges different from their own. The organization’s programs include Empathy Rocks anti-bullying workshops, educational arts programs, service-learning projects, after-school programs and parent-teacher training.
The organization seeks to empower at-risk children across the U.S. by connecting them with other children here and around the world. Children Mending Hearts helps them feel valued while nurturing their ability to relate to others. Actress Storm Reid (“A Wrinkle in Time,” “Euphoria”) is serving as the official CMH educational ambassador. Through this ambassadorship, Reid, who has her own foundation, Bamazing, shares CMH’s mission of healing, eradicating bullying and inspiring empathy. CMH’s recent campaigns include:
- #ICHOOSEEMPATHY – This free resource website (ichooseempathy.org) is filled with art projects, games, reading guides, videos, acts of kindness, quotes and research to make sure that teachers, children and parents can engage with empathy and compassion in a fun, thought-provoking way. As part of the initiative, the resource site offers free twice-weekly 40-minute live Zoom classes for grade school students. In each class, a book is read, the children discuss the book, and then the students do an easy, accessible art project that ties it all together. These classes promote social-emotional learning to help spread empathy and help kids process complex feelings.
- #SEPARATETOGETHER – Empathy is what we call on within ourselves to help flatten the curve, check in on our elderly neighbors and thank essential workers. CMH’s weekly deliveries to community centers have given more than 6 tons of food to those in need.