Giving back…or paying it forward…in challenging times
This year has been filled with unprecedented challenges that have affected our human family in every corner of the planet. Millions of people around the world have experienced, in one form or another, the devastating consequences of COVID 19; we also know that not one of the 7.7 billion of us has been immune from the emotional, physical, financial, and social toll this virus has created. Yet, in the midst of the devastation that COVID has caused, we have also been amazed and heartened by the breakneck pace at which multiple vaccines have been created that look very promising in turning the tide of this pandemic. What normally takes 10 years to produce has taken 10 months! It is a reminder that when we work together on behalf of an important cause, extraordinary things happen.
So, what is the important cause that animates those of us in the CMM Institute? Here is the broad answer; it’s the vision and mission statement of the CMM Institute:
We have a vision for a better world! A world filled with loving relationships, supportive institutions, creative organizations, and mature civic processes. We know that this world is possible if enough of us choose to make it so. We also realize that the skills for making social worlds are unevenly distributed and that they are often in shortest supply when needed the most. For this reason, our vision is to use CMM and the work of this Institute to promote abilities, skills, and ways of being that enable us all to act compassionately, mindfully, and wisely into the complex world in which we live.
We have a very specific answer as well: A vital leverage for systemic change is providing children the skills, abilities, and tools to co-create these better social worlds. The development of the activities we call CosmoKidz is our attempt to provide the resources adults need to teach these essential communication and social-emotional skills to children. Through brief but daily conversations about the social worlds that children experience of sharing, responding positively to teasing or bullying, making new friends, etc., they are learning how to “be” with each other in more mindful, caring, and compassionate ways. Without knowing it, they are also learning CMM! Here is one example from a 1st grade teacher of how her young students are relating with each other:
“I am noticing mainly throughout my entire class that the children are communicating way more. They have been solving their own problems with talking to one another instead of running to me. I also have noticed the children that struggled with helping others have become so much better at it. For example, one student in particular, when she sees someone crying she immediately goes to hug and check on that other student. That’s a big deal to me. I am beyond happy to notice that. They are getting better listening skills and have learned to respect adults and other classmates.”
Imagine the kind of school cultures we would have if this way of being was occurring in most classrooms on a regular basis. What differences would this make in students’ personal lives, their social and family lives, and in the larger communities of which they are a part?
There was a time in the evolution of CMM when a group of us wondered if the principles of CMM could translate into ways of working with an entire community. A group of us founded the non-profit organization the Public Dialogue Consortium (www.publicdialogue.org) and the City of Cupertino became our “test case” through a multi-year action research project called, “The Cupertino Project: Voices and Visions”. Twenty-five years later, the work of the PDC continues, due in part to the immense success of our signature work in Cupertino.
The Stewards of the CMM Institute believe that the skills and abilities that CMM promotes need to start with pre-school children and then practiced over and over and over again, until these skills become a “way of being” as they navigate and inhabit their social worlds. We wonder if the principles of CMM as taught and modeled through the CosmoKidz line of products can enhance entire school cultures in a sustainable way. We know from our previous research in multiple schools that CosmoKidz makes a positive difference in the lives of children and in their classroom environment. What we don’t yet know is what happens to children, teachers, and staff over time if an entire school culture is immersed in brief but daily conversations that are fostering mindful and respectful conversations about issues that children experience and care about. We also wonder if this can easily be replicated and remain sustainable for most any school.
Today, our “Cupertino Project” is Independence Leadership Academy (ILA) in Independence, Louisiana. ILA is a pre-kindergarten through 4th grade “CosmoKidz” school. Their School Vision that faculty and staff developed and that children recite each morning is the following:
My vision for myself is to be an example of a CosmoKid and SOAR in my work and attitude. I am committed to growth in myself, growth in how I treat others, and growth in my learning to be on or above grade level.
What you have just read is a vision for these students to make a better world for themselves and others. It is our vision for them as well.
Through action research, the CMM Institute is following the pre-k students through the end of 4th grade and documenting the changes over time that occur within individual students, among students in their relationships with each other, in the overall school environment, and beyond school to the home environment.
Our budget for all of this is $24,000/year. This money is only for teacher stipends—the CMM Institute and individuals from CMM conducting the research are working pro bono. The honoraria that we are giving these 31 teachers reflects our gratitude and respect for the outstanding work they are doing for the children and acknowledges the value of their time and thoughtfulness in providing qualitative data.
In the spirit of “fundraising from the heart” we are asking you to consider joining us in this effort with a 100% tax deductible contribution for this ongoing work. Please consider partnering with us through any level or method of financial contribution. You can send a check made payable to the CMM Institute to the address below or you can donate securely through PayPal by clicking the orange Donate button below.
Should you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to send an email to me: firstname.lastname@example.org (I am the person leading and overseeing the research). If you are interested in reading about our past research or learning more about the effectiveness of CosmoKidz, check out our website at cosmokidz.org.
May you and your loved ones be safe and well during these very challenging times.
Kim Pearce, Co-Founder and President
60557 E. Arroyo Grande Drive