Couple of months back, on a beautiful morning of March 24, 2018 my daughter (Pragna, 7 year old) shouted “papa get ready we need to go to Boston’s March for Our Lives”, to show discontent with Parkland shooting and support people seeking solution to make schools safer for all of us. The event was great and she had a lot of fun shouting hopeful slogans and seeing the energy from so many kids and their parents. The event ended with us going to a cupcake shop. On our way back, Pragna asked us why Parkland happened, and we tried to explain all possible reasons for loneliness in kids, depression in early ages and easy access to lethal weapons. We as parents were all over the place in pulling out anything/everything that could be blamed.
She asked, so are we going to be unsafe in school? This tiny statement hit harder than expected and penetrated deep into a worried parent’s heart. Yes, we are worried, we are afraid and we are inexperienced on how to solve such a massive issue that we see everywhere around us. With 2 clueless and worried parents and a curious kid, the conversation saw its closure as the 7-year-old got under the wrapper of a long tiring day and went to sleep.
In the next few weeks, as we were following the news about Parkland, all the proposed steps demanded political changes that seem incongruent with the current political landscape. Does this mean parents like us will stay worried about our children? Does this mean we will stay put on another batch of unactionable steps? We were unclear if we could teach our 7-year-old to stay put and hope/pray that solution will emerge to make the environment healthy and growth-oriented for all.
As confused parents, we tried to get into another batch of meaningful conversations with our 7-year-old about the various drivers including loneliness and depression. Pragna noticed and somehow connected the dot and suggested, could it be that Nikolas Cruz does not have a friend to talk to. Yes, such children could be lonely and one of the causes of depression is nothing but loneliness taking a bad shape. Listening carefully, Pragna ushered: “I could be their friend”. What do you mean, asked my curious self. “I am everyone’s friend and they could talk to me if they are lonely”, said Pragna. “Sure, but how could you study if you have too many friends relying on your support?”, I asked to see what she is thinking. Pragna suggested that she could ask her current friends to be open to becoming friends with anyone in need.
Now the conversation was getting exciting. We were getting into the mind of 7 year old, and the simplistic answer to such a complicated subject. To check further, we asked, “what if all of your friends are super busy and there could be thousands of people needing help.” Pragna went into a quieter zone… thinking.. thinking.. thinking.. and after some time said “I FOUND IT! Papa, why not we make teachers as friends who talk to anyone, as they are friendly with everyone. Mrs. Clark talks to all of us.”. I nodded with agreement and asked what if Mrs. Clark is already super busy taking care of such an awesome batch of super kids.
Pragna suggested if we could hire more teachers? or ask kids to help.. suddenly a bulb lit up. What if we could have a program like Neighborhood Watch, but for friendship?
Suddenly a solution emerged that is super simplistic and has the potential to hit the core of a bigger brewing problem of isolation, loneliness, and depression. Solution: What if every class has 5–10 kids who are told to be friends with everyone without asking for anything in return (not even friendship)? It will result in participating kids to be empathetic to other kids and to provide help whenever and wherever required.
She nodded with agreement and points her thumbs up to endorse her agreement on our ability to comprehend and compile her thoughts.
We as parents became intensely curious and after researching on some parallel pilot programs and other similar programs rolled out the concept of “Being First”. Creating a team of folks who are friends with anyone/everyone.
So, we are seeking your help in making our 7year old’s dream a reality by providing her with your endorsement and share. We have created a donate link to help her raise money to start working on such an initiative. 100% of the proceeds would go towards solving the safety of schools by addressing loneliness and depressed friends. We as parents would match some portion of the raised money and we are in talks with some companies to pitch in to help with Pragna’s mission.
We would appreciate your quick attention, endorsement, share and support to help us and Pragna solve this problem that ensures safety and well-being for every kid going in such a learning environment.
Pragna started FriendshipWeek in 2018 and 200 families support the event, in 2019 she wants to extend this event to 10,000 families globally. We need community help and support to extend her mission. We sincerely appreciate any support and help in extending the note to as many people as possible. Read more: https://friendshipweek.org
On request by several teachers and friends, Pragna has also created a clothing line to spread awareness around Friendship. Please check out: http://beingfriend.com (a clothing that gives you superpower of being everyone’s friend!)
World Friendship Week 2019 planning is underway, as it is planned for Nov 11–17, 2019. We have already crossed our expected mark and currently onto our target for 150k global members celebrating. We are seeking your help in spreading the word, so Pragna’s message could reach out to masses. Please share FriendshipWeek.org withing your communities so others could take notice and celebrate friendship with us. We have also created a GoFundMe page to help us with raising resources to help out: https://www.gofundme.com/f/friendshipweek2019