On May 1st of 2009, San Clemente was shocked by the tragic loss of 16-year-old, Daniel Mendez. Daniel loved football and skateboarding, and he was an outstanding student and friend. He lost his life to bullying-related suicide.
After his death, Daniel’s friends banded together and fought back. They started the Cool 2 Be Kind club to combat bullying on campus and make sure that this would not happen to anyone else.
Cool 2 Be Kind works to provide a support system for kids who are being bullied—to let them know that someone has their back. It also strives to empower students to speak up against bullying when they see “Saying something as simple as ‘That’s not cool’ can change a situation completely,” says President, Victoria Mendez. “It lets the bully know that they don’t look better for being mean to someone else, but that they actually look worse. They often stop at that point because they don’t have a reason to do it anymore.”
The club organizes various events in order to raise awareness against bullying. They have hosted two anti-bullying marches in Laguna Beach and three dances for high school kids. The club also first brought Blue Ribbon Week to San Clemente in 2010, which is a week dedicated to bullying awareness and the spreading of kindness that has been celebrated annually ever since. During Blue Ribbon Week, Cool 2 Be Kind puts on assemblies at local elementary and middle schools to teach kids why it is important to show kindness, and how they can have a part in stopping bullying.
Cool 2 Be Kind’s mission is to make San Clemente a place where bullying is never tolerated, but they don’t stop locally. There are currently nine Cool 2 Be Kind chapters across the country. With about 40 active members at the San Clemente chapter, the club is immensely proud of the way that their movement is growing. They’ve received local, state, and national recognition from the Mayor of San Clemente, the Orange County Anti-Violence Coalition, the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the California State Senate, and even a letter from President Obama.
Daniel’s parents also began the National Association of People Against Bullying (NAPAB) in Daniel’s memory. The organization offers free therapy, martial arts, and investigative service to victims of bullying and their families. It is a non-profit that runs completely on donations an volunteers.
For more information on how you can start a Cool 2 Be Kind chapter or volunteer your services for NAPAB, visit www.cool2bekind.org and www.napab.org. Remember, it is everyone’s responsibility to take a stand against bullying.
To read the rest of this article, check out the Spring 2014 issue in High School Illustrated – South Orange County for iPad, completely free on the App Store.