Twelve-year-old Drew Miller says he spent years coming home from school crying as a result of being bullied. One day, his mother helped change his perspective.
They could not have imagined the reach it would have.
“I would come home and ask my mom why they were being so mean, and mom always told me that their hearts hurt,” Drew said. “So the next day, I went to school and I asked the kid, ‘Why were you being so mean? Can I help you?’ And usually they told me, and we became friends.”
His mom, Carmen Miller, has a background in child advocacy, working with Court Appointed Special Advocates in Oklahoma, she said.
Drew and his mother started Come Together with Kindness in 2017, which he said is an anti-bullying initiative for children who bully and children who are the targets.
In October, Drew, who is now homeschooled, published a children’s book titled, “The Legend of Curly Q Drew and The Message Mistake.”
The book is about a time in kindergarten when Drew was dared to walk up to a girl on the playground and say, “Girls stink and boys rock,” he said. When the girl responded with, “No, boys stink and girls rock,” children on the playground started chanting back and forth.
When Drew came home that day, he said he told his mother a girl was mean to him without telling the whole story. Carmen Miller said she later found out what happened on the playground, and in the book, every time Drew learns a lesson, like the experience on the playground, he gets a new curl on his head.
Sales of the book help support the costs of the nonprofit Come Together with Kindness, such as Kindness Kits, Carmen Miller said.
She said the Kindness Kits come in envelopes decorated by Drew and contain everything someone would need to do a good deed.
One of the kits is “Be More Purposeful with a Pen,” and it contains a pen, paper of different sizes and envelopes so whomever has the kit can send a nice note to someone.
Anyone can get a Kindness Kit for free by signing up at cometogetherwithkindness.com . Carmen Miller also said the kits are given away at book events.
The group also gives out Kindness Medallions, Miller said. Someone can nominate a child for showing kindness or doing a good deed on the website and that child will get a medallion sent to them.
Miller said people from about 17 states as well as from Hong Kong and Australia have signed up on the website to be part of the initiative.
The reach of Come Together with Kindness has touched Carmen Miller, she said, because she sees its impact on children and their parents.
“Trying to offer your friendship to someone who is not being kind to you makes a big difference. It doesn’t always work — it’s not all rainbows and unicorns — but it does make a big difference,” she said. “I have parents say to me, ‘I look at things differently because I’m doing this with my kid. ...’ So for me, that’s huge.”
Drew said Come Together with Kindness has helped him realize children often are not being mean just to be mean, but because of other things going on in their lives.
“We’re helping bullies not be bullies and we’re helping kids be kind to those bullies. We’re helping kids stand up,” he said. “We help kids notice that bullying is not cool, that kindness is the new cool. (Kids bully) because their hearts hurt and there’s something going on at home, probably.”
Drew said he wants children who are being bullied to reach out to the person hurting them, because they may be hurting, too.
“I know that they’re not just trying to be mean. I know that I’m not the victim. They’re mostly the victim there, because they’re the one who’s having all that trouble,” he said. “I want all the kids that are being bullied to ask those kids that are bullying you, ‘Hey can I help you? Is there anything going on? I can be your friend.’ ”