If there’s one person in this world who can make millions of people want to start wearing parachute pants again just by wearing them herself, it’s Lady Gaga. With a previously unmatched power of influence, Gaga, thank goodness, isn’t using it to bring back the questionable fashion trends of the 80s (…at least this time.) For now, she’s using it to empower youth.
Yesterday, Gaga launched the Born this Way Foundation at Harvard University. Encouraging bullied youth to embrace who they are, Gaga told the audience of plans to spread a message of hope and empowerment for kids and teens who are being bullied both in and out of the classroom.
“This is not an anti-bullying foundation. This is a youth-empowerment foundation,” she told the crowd, according to Boston.com.
According to the National Education Association’s nationwide study of bullying, it was estimated in 2011 that nearly 30 percent of school-aged children suffer the affects of bullying on a monthly basis. According to their study, “the associated negative effects of bullying include a range of academic, social, emotional, physical health, and mental health problems” which all, in conjunction, often lead to academic struggle and possible failure.
So how does Gaga plan to turn it all around?
The multiplatinum artist and international phenomenon was quoted in an article by Nicholas Kristof yesterday saying that, instead of focusing on a “top-down crackdown” from school administration and other higher-ups, as Kristof put it, she wants to start at the bottom by making kindness what all the cool kids are doing.
“I’m not here today to give you an answer. And I’m not here to tell you I can solve these problems,” Gaga told the audience yesterday. “This is about transformative change in culture over a period of time.”
Olweus, a bullying prevention program, claims that students who bully “play a leader role” in their school’s hierarchy. Those students who are not directly bullying typically end up behaving as supporters or as “disengaged onlookers”. What the Born this Way Foundation seeks to do is to use the mechanics of the high school food chain in an effort to reverse degrading behavior at the source.
According to its website, The Foundation stresses three pillars which, when combined, are the supposed ingredients for a “braver, kinder world.” The first pillar, “Safety,” is cited as a necessary dynamic in order for “young people to be able to explore themselves.” The Foundation offers online forums to ensure that this safe environment is available for youths looking to “celebrate their individuality”.
The second pillar is “skills” – the Born this Way Foundation seeks to provide its audience with the tools they’ll need to become successful leaders once they’ve gotten comfortable in their own skin. “It’s not enough for us to simply tell you about the importance of making change,” its website reads. “We’re going to provide you with the skills, tools and resources you need to feel empowered and lead.”
Lastly, “opportunity” is the third pillar. Stressing that the effort is only as strong as its supporters, the Foundation gives individuals the resources they’ll need to pass the message on and foster hope in their communities.
According to her representative, Gaga has already donated $1.2 million of her own fortune to the foundation. To make a donation or learn more about the call to end bullying and empower youth, click here.
”If you have revolutionary potential, you must make the world a better place and use it,” Gaga said, according to Socialitelife.com. ”This is about transformative change in culture.”