Lady Gaga may be best known for her wild outfits, sold-out tours, and “little monster” fans, but she’s fast becoming known for her efforts to make this world a little kinder, a little braver, and a little more accepting for everyone. We could use more of that.
The bus (and the tour) is devoted to youth ages 13-25 and provides a safe space them to connect with on-site local, community resources including behavioral and mental health services, school psychologists, mentoring, volunteer opportunities and bullying and suicide prevention resources.
On-site partners include Campus Pride, GLSEN, the Hive Learning Networks & YOUMedia, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Council for Behavioral Health, MENTOR, Mentoring USA, The Trevor Project, and Youth Service America.
Inside the bus, which is covered in fan artwork and filled with digital media provided by YOUMedia, youth can be themselves and celebrate difference. They’re also encouraged to get creative, and YOUmedia mentors are on hand with digital tools to help them get started as media creators.
The Born This Way foundation is based on three pillars of safety, skills, and opportunity. In addition to the bus, the foundation partnered with a number of youth organizations across the country to set up special events that relate back to the foundation’s core values.
The Free Library of Philadelphia, for example, is working with several local organizations to screen the documentary film Bully, followed by a conversation with Cynthia Lowen, the director of the film. The library is also working with the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education to offer workshops for teens, as well as a booth on the Born Brave compound where youth can learn about the services they offer. They are encouraging youth to respond to the events on Twitter and Instagram.
In Minnesota, the St. Paul Public Library is hosting a series of youth-driven events based on their new program Read Brave, which encourages all members of the community to read the same book. The book chosen, Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, addresses themes of bullying, intolerance, and conflict. Teens who read the book are encouraged to create responses in exchange for a VIP pass onto the Born Brave Bus.
The end goal is to create a large-scale, intergenerational, and informal dialogue touching on content in line with the principles of the Born This Way Foundation.
Another group joining in the effort (at least tangentially) is the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University for (which helped us design many elements of our curriculum). In conjunction with the Born This Way Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, they have released several new scholarly papers on youth movements for social change. As their site says, the goal is to “provide research-grounded insight to the variety of stakeholders working on issues related to youth empowerment and action towards creating a kinder, braver world.”
The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series is edited by experts danah boyd, John Palfrey, and Dena Sacco, so it’s sure to be worth a look.
Here are a few that look particularly interesting:
· What You Must Know to Help Combat Youth Bullying, Meanness, and Cruelty
by danah boyd and John Palfrey
· Cultivating Young Women’s Leadership for a Kinder, Braver World
by Anna Rorem and Monisha Bajaj
· How to Engage Young People: Lessons from Lowell, MA
by Sopheap Linda C. Sou, Darcie DeAngelo, Masada Jones, and Monica Veth
· Bullying Prevention 101 for Schools: Dos and Don’ts
by Susan Swearer, Mia Doces, Lisa Jones, and Anne Collier
Additional information on Lady Gaga’s U.S. tour dates is available on her website.
Pre-registration for some of the stops on the Born Brave Bus tour started in January, so interested youth should go to bornthiswayfoundation.org to make sure to catch it when it comes to their area.