The Be ONE Project

Posted by Peter MUIR

16-year-old Matthew Kaplan created The Be ONE (Open to New Experiences) Project to address middle school bullying. The Be ONE Project is an interactive, program that engages middle school students in team activities designed to build community and foster empathy and mutual respect.

Matthew created The Be ONE Project after his brother was bullied. When their school grew dramatically, nearly doubling in size in just one year, the entire school culture changed, and the instances of bullying increased exponentially. When Matthew’s brother became the victim of cyberbullying, Matthew knew he had to do something. Matthew pitched his idea for The Be ONE Project to the school’s administration and spent the summer creating his program. In the fall of 2011, as a freshman, Matthew held his first Be ONE Project for 100 incoming 5th graders. That program was so successful that the 7th grade team of teachers approached him about conducting another Be ONE Project for the 7th graders. That too was so effective in raising morale and reducing bullying that The Be ONE Project is now part of the mandatory curriculum at Arizona School for the Arts, and Matthew leads Be ONE Project days annually. Matthew is now expanding The Be ONE Project to other schools.