'Kind Campus' fosters anti-bullying message

Ben's Bells founder Jeannette Mare shares her story, and her goal for "Kind Campus."
Ben's Bells founder Jeannette Mare shares her story, and her goal for "Kind Campus."

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Simple acts of kindness can go a long way, especially in high school when we all know those years can be tough. But having the courage to be kind, especially at school, isn't always easy.

Ben's Bells is expanding, its second studio opened downtown last week, but the well-known group is also spreading its message into some schools.

A new program called "Kind Campus" has been launching at schools all over Tucson since the new year began.

Today, a special launch for Ben's mom and the students at one of TUSD's alternative education schools.

It starts with a pledge: be kind.

"The first thing of kindness is respect, which a lot of people don't give, especially nowadays," said Adriana Baca, a 17-year-old student at TUSD's Teenage Parent Program (TAPP).

"I think they thought it was a little silly, maybe stupid, to try and bring flowers, bells into the school," said Megan Malone, also a student and teen mom. "But after they heard the story, I think they respected it more."

The story is that of Jeannette Mare whose son, Ben died when he was just three. Mare founded "Ben's Bells" in an effort to spread the kindness she says continues to help her family heal.

"Today was more difficult for me because I was surrounded by little children who were not far from Ben's age," Mare said.

Today, in front of a room full of teen parents, who are also students at TAPP, Mare shared her story, and her goal for "Kind Campus."

"If we expect kindness and really work to create that culture that bullying should reduce," Mare said.

These teen moms say their school isn't much different from any other.

"You still have the people with their friends, the people that debate against each other," Baca said. "The only difference is, we're all teen mothers."

"All high schools, especially ones with primarily girls, have a certain element of meanness, it's the nature of high school," said Jackie Sinn, the school nurse at TAPP.

"It's human nature, you know?" said Megan Malone, a TAPP student and teen mom. "We all act how people treat us, but at the same time we can totally change that around, especially going into schools."

Here, young parents who have grown up quickly have a reason to change.

"It's made me a better person now that I have my son," said Breanna Jirschele, a 19-year-old student and teen mom. "I know that I don't want my son to be how I was. I was bad."

Now, a handwritten reminder to have the courage to choose kindness.

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