FREEPORT – The poster promoting the documentary, “Finding Kind,” scheduled to be screened on Monday, Nov. 18, at Freeport High School, notes, “We can all be kind.”

Those involved with Service Learning at Freeport High and at Freeport Community Services, as well as organizations rallying against girl-on-girl bullying, hope that message gets across during the film and lecture, which is set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. The public – with a particular focus on parents – is invited and there is no admission fee, though a suggested $5 donation will be accepted at the door.

Maddy Vertenten, a parent who works in wellness, consulted with Dede Bennell, the service learning and aspirations coordinator at Freeport High School, and Phyllis Latham, Freeport Middle School guidance counselor, to make the film and lecture happen.

“I got an email from Dede in early September,” Vertenten said. “I responded and said, ‘Let’s make this happen,’ and we pulled together some local sponsors.”

Hearty Girls Healthy Women, Family Crisis Center and Young Adult Abuse Prevention Program are sponsoring “Finding Kind,” which also is a part of the Tolerance and Respect Project at Freeport Community Services.

According to the film’s website, “Finding Kind” filmmakers Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, who met at Pepperdine University, “set out in a cross-country journey of discovery and education. Interviewing women and girls along the way about their lives and experiences, they find some universal truths about growing up as girls. It is their quest to take these experiences and find a common ground of kindness and mutual respect.”

Parsekian and Thompson also include interviews with experts and authors in the fields of psychology, education and the interrelationships of women and girls.

In addition to the Nov. 18 screening and discussion, Freeport Middle School students will view the film on Tuesday at school, then 10 girls will lead a roundtable discussion. Freshman girls and boys will discuss the film and the issue of bullying on Wednesday at the high school.

Bennell said that Monday night’s public showing will provide parents with an opportunity to learn what goes on in the schools.

“Hopefully,” she said, “they’ll leave with something in their tool box. Obviously, this movie identifies a girl bullying culture. We see that there are girls who definitely have challenges in that way, but it’s really open to boys, as well. Our goal is to really talk about what makes a healthy self, and how we can have healthy, positive friendships.”

Vertenten said that, as the film points out, “kindness is needed.”

Self-esteem issues arise with young people who are trying to figure out who they are, she said.

“It’s heartbreaking for us as parents to see them go through these times,” Vertenten said. “It’s not just the sad stories, but this is about, ‘how can I make the world a better place?’”

Vertenten hopes that parents and other adults in the audience Monday night can provide some perspective during discussions.

“Adults can explain how it gets better,” she said.

She also added an intriguing insight into the bullying problem.

“It’s important that we not demonize the bully, because the people who are doing the bullying are hurting, too,” she said.

The documentary, “Finding Kind,” will be screened on Monday, Nov. 18, at Freeport High School.


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