These Valentine's Day Cards Empower Kids To Love Their Differences And Spread Positive Messages Of Tolerance

These are so important, especially in 2017.

On Valentine's Day, larger themes of love and tolerance often get overlooked in favor of candy hearts centering on coupledom and Hallmark romance. Taken a different way, however, the holiday can be a valuable time for kids and adults alike to focus on what it means to really accept yourself and others — to celebrate the general concept of love, shared between everyone, no matter their age, relationship status, ethnicity, orientation, or story.  

One woman, named Emily Barker, took the opportunity to turn Valentine's Day into a teaching moment for kids by creating Kindhearted Cards, a website that features cards with impactful messages of tolerance. "I love that you dare to stand out," "You help me see things differently," and "Everyone's welcome at our school" are just a few of the phrases written on the cards meant to empower kids to love their differences and spread positive messages. 



Barker, who launched Kindhearted Cards just in time for this year's Valentine's Day, sought to use her skills in creative advertising for a personal project to spread kindness. "Valentine's Day works really well, because it's leaning in to existing behaviors — kids already pass out cards to their classmates," she told A Plus in an email. 

Courtesy of Emily Barker
Courtesy of Emily Barker

Kids can print the cards for free, and teachers can use the Kindhearted website as a resource for lesson plan ideas that supplement the cards. For example, it is recommended teachers introduce the popular children's book Giraffes Can't Dance to the class and prompt students to answer questions such as "Why do the other animals make fun of Gerald the giraffe?" and "How does this make Gerald feel?" After the discussion, teachers can place the printed cards on a table, and ask students to pick the card they want to give to a classmate. 

"The cards have cute imagery and phrasing to position diversity and acceptance in a way kids can easily understand," Barker told A Plus when asked what makes these cards such effective teaching tools for parents and teachers. "When you frame diversity in terms of different flavors of ice cream, or different sports they can play at recess, the value of differences really clicks for kids."

"That paves the way to talk about all the types of differences in people, and the value of being around people who aren’t exactly like you."

The idea behind cards promoting tolerance is not without an awareness of today's political climate, where divisive policies and rhetoric have torn people apart, causing hate on both sides. Barker notes Kindhearted Cards are especially important in 2017 because kids are prone to picking up on, and repeating, such negative messages. 

"There are so many good, kind people out there, but sometimes the voices of hate are the loudest. Kids are like sponges, and absorb the messages they hear. It's upsetting to see them doing chants of 'build that wall' in the cafeteria. But there's also an amazing opportunity to empower them to use their voices for good."

"Kindhearted Cards is a platform that makes it easy for kids and adults to spread messages of tolerance in a fun way. "

The reaction to the cards has been very positive, as Barker tells us teachers have expressed intentions of sharing the cards with their whole school, and that "plenty of people who want to take positive action have also commented how inspired they are and how they plan on using them."

As for Barker's favorite cards? She says she loves the "Everyone's welcome at our school" fish card and "Differences can be delicious" ice cream card. 



Post-Valentines Day, Barker says the cards will take on different, more evergreen themes of tolerance for both kids and adults, along with cards that react to specific events. 

"Ideally, I'll get different artists to do featured six-card collections every so often. That way, the content stays fresh and there's a demand based on the artist's following."

We can't wait to see all the cards to come!  

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