Rockford businesses partner in anti-bullying campaign

Call it what you want—it comes down to being nice!

Kim Smith of Kimberly’s Boutique, Be Nice organizer Kristen Bloem and Candy Lancioni of Aunt Candy’s Toy Company are excited to bring the Be Nice campaign to Rockford.

During the month of February, Rockford local businesses will be partnering with the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan (MHF) to spread the message of be nice. within the Rockford community. The be nice. campaign was initiated by the MHF in 2011 to create awareness surrounding the issues of bullying in schools, workplaces, and community-wide. Rockford community member, Kristen Bloem, became aware of the be nice. initiative when she attended an event for the Mental Health Foundation. Bloem states, “Just two simple words, I felt inspired to help and bring this Rockford.” With her help, Rockford businesses are jumping on the be nice. bandwagon by selling be nice. t-shirts, bumper stickers, and wristbands in their stores. First to jump on board are Kimberly’s Boutique and Aunt Candy’s Toy Company.  All proceeds from be nice. merchandise sold by Rockford local businesses will go toward bringing the be nice. Campaign as well as the Live Laugh Love Mental Health Education Program to Rockford schools.

Christy Buck, Executive Director, of the MHF started the Live Laugh Love Mental Health Education Program six years ago to combat the overwhelming statistic of high school students becoming victims of suicide in West Michigan. Buck reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among high school students in Kent County. The Live Laugh Love curriculum is designed to educate adolescents about mental health illness, focusing on the themes of mental health stigma, the effects of bullying, recognizing signs of depression and anxiety, recognizing signs of suicide, and knowing how friends can help friends find help. Over the past six years the MHF has educated over 10,000 adolescents about mental health.

In its newest endeavor, the MHF is bringing the community together to increase awareness of treating people with civility community-wide by partnering with Rockford, Grandville, Grand Rapids, and East Grand Rapids to proclaim February 24 as be nice. day. Be nice. is more than just saying “don’t bully,” it is a strengths-based perspective and a positive way to minimize bullying in our schools and communities. It is also a proactive way to encourage kindness among kids, parents, coworkers, and community members.

By supporting the be nice. campaign, Rockford local businesses are showing their community how much they care about the growth and well-being of Rockford youth as well as their community as a whole. Community members can show their support of be nice. and their commitment to “being nice” by wearing a be nice. t-shirt or wristband and spreading awareness of the be nice. message.

Buck states, “It is important to be good role models in our communities by exemplifying behaviors that encourage kindness, respect, mindfulness, and civility so that our schools and communities are both safe and nurturing environments.” Whatever you call these positive behaviors, they all add up to being nice. The MHF is challenging Rockford schools, businesses, and residents to be nice. and support an initiative that will strengthen Rockford’s community.

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