BY SAMANTHA CHOW

KOTA BARU: Excitement for the 2020 #StandTogether National Kindness Week campaign is already ramping up as ambassador Datuk Chef Wan paid one of last year’s participating schools a visit, and surprised them with a RM5,000 donation.

Two students from SMK Mulong attended one of the 15 #StandTogether Kindness Tour workshops last year and their subsequent efforts as “Kindness Ambassadors” earned them the celebrity visit.

“I wanted to give back to the school because compassion and empathy have taught me what love is.

“It is a small gift to thank them but hopefully, (the gesture) becomes bigger one day, ” said Chef Wan, who was mobbed by students and teachers after his speech.

“The #StandTogether campaign is a fantastic platform to remind people that under our skin, it is the same blood that flows. What makes us beautiful are our words and actions.”

#StandTogether was initiated by Star Media Group’s award-winning R.AGE team and property developer SP Setia in 2017 to end bullying in schools, and it quickly grew into a nationwide kindness movement with support from numerous celebrities and partner organisations.

The Kindness Tour workshops, organised by #StandTogether partner Digi, encouraged students to run similar workshops on cyberbullying and kindness in their own schools.

SMK Mulong students not only ran workshops in their own school, including those in special needs classes but organised several other sessions in nearby schools.

“The goal of our project was to inform our friends about the effects of cyberbullying and its impact on our mental health, ” said Rosman Syakir Rosham, 17.

“I think it is more helpful for students to share with their peers on issues like this as they are more likely to listen and accept.”

Teacher Noor Ashikin Ismail said the school had appointed several students as “Kindness Ambassadors” to help tackle cyberbullying among their peers.

“When bullying occurs, students may prefer to share with their friends as they may feel shy to tell a teacher.

“We hope to train our Kindness Ambassadors and Pembimbing Rakan Sebaya (peer counsellors) to handle these cases, or to refer to school counsellors if it escalates, ” she said.

Last year, over 3,000 students and teachers took part in the Kindness Tour across all 15 states and federal territories, with participants going back to their schools as “Kindness Ambassadors”.

“I think that the schoolchildren at SMK Mulong have been great ambassadors for not only their school but also their state, ” said Digi Eastern Head of Channel Marketing chief Norsyazana Shafie.

“We hope to help create nationwide change by getting everyone from our schoolchildren to adults to start talking about kindness and empathy.”

The #StandTogether campaign has won numerous accolades including a gold award at the 2019 Asian Digital Media Award in Hong Kong, and the 2018 World Digital Media Award in Glasgow.

The campaign also garnered support from Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, and Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo as well as from MPs like Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin.

For more information on the #StandTogether campaign and to learn how you can get involved, go to www.standtogether.my.