The Waverly Elementary School first-graders were treated to a presentation by Yonkers resident and SpeakNicely.com founder Audrey Weitz, a mother of five who believes in spreading kindness, not malice, through words.
Weitz makes her living by creating clothes that carry positive messages on them, such as “share your power,” or “honor people.”
“At your age, you don’t know how much impact your words can have,” she told the Daisy Scouts. “It’s not that the bullies are mean, it’s just that they never learned these lessons.”
After Weitz’s presentation, each of the 18 Girl Scouts was given a “compliment book.” The girls went around the room, writing something they liked about each girl in their books. In the end, they were given a memento that boosted their self-esteem and gave them something they can look back on years down the road.
Erin Baker, co-leader of the group who arranged the program, wanted to cover two topics: being responsible for what one says and does, and being strong and courageous.
“It’s about standing up for yourself, and that doesn’t mean only with physical strength,” she said. “It can also mean standing up for someone else when you see a problem.”
While signing each others’ compliment books, the girls were given teal hair extensions by local stylist Danielle Schepesi. The color symbolizes the anti-bullying movement and will make people more aware of the problem, Baker said.
“I was a fifth-grade teacher for 10 years, and some of the things I heard them say shocked me. I asked myself how they got that way,” she said. “They need to know that their words hurt at a young age, and that it’s not allowed. Some of these things stay with you.”
The program gave the Girl Scouts an opportunity to learn at a young age that words can be a powerful weapon.
“Lots of states are talking about bullying right now. There’s a lot going on right now, and it’s hard for me as a mother,” Weitz said. “We want something that might make [the Girl Scouts] feel great for a long time.”
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