The Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation is hosting the third Paducah Kindness Color Walk at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 5, at Noble Park’s Greenway Trail. Registration opens at 8 a.m.
“The goal is to bring not only our community together, but also students, parents, teachers, coaches, ministers, police, friends, neighbors and business leaders from communities around the region,” said 14 year old co-founder Morgan Guess. “We may live in one community but we compete on fields and courts with students from all across the region and our friends at church and at social gatherings far extend beyond the borders of McCracken County. We are focused on creating a fun event to start the school year off with a focus on kindness. It is about building friendships and opening a discussion about how kindness can lead the way to a better school culture and stronger communities.”
Morgan and her mother, Susan Guess, founded the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation in 2012 as a result of Morgan’s personal experience with bullying. Since then, the duo have sponsored authors, filmmakers, and speakers at local schools. They successfully lobbied the legislature for a bill to formally define bullying in Kentucky. Governor Matt Bevin signed the bill into law in April of 2016 and the definitional will impact all 1,233 public schools and 640,000 Kentucky students. They added #bekindpaducah mural on the back of the MAKE building at the corner of 7th and Broadway last year as the first of many planned for downtown. The two were also recently featured on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Optionb.org website to promote her new book by the same name to lift up those who have overcome adversity and made a positive difference.
A Kindness Wall will be available for participants to post positive messages. Participants will be covered in color throughout the walk and a group color throw will end the event. Kind messages will be visible throughout the trail.
A yoga class will start at 8 a.m. on the park lawn (bring your mat). Cheerleaders from around the region and the PTHS drumline will lead the start of the walk. Electric 96.9 will be playing music, the Paducah Bank Wow! Wagon will have free ice cream, and Banks Grocery will provide water. Texas Roadhouse will have a station with tea, lemonade and water along the trail and the KIND Company has donated 500 protein bars. The Guesses are working on a few surprises as well.
“We have been able to make a positive difference because of the support of so many people and businesses,” said Susan Guess. “While we believe the conversation is very different than it was when Morgan experienced bullying, there is more to do. We continue to receive calls from parents and students about bullying — and about the depression and self-harming that can follow when the bullying goes unheard. Kids who afraid to not learn. We should never tolerate or turn our heads to bullying. Bullying happens one act at a time and so does kindness. We believe a focus on kindness is a positive and tangible way every member of our communities can make a difference on this important issue.”
Morgan believes students must know that every member of the community is committed to being kind. “We can’t just tell students to be kind,” she said. “For young people to believe in kindness and to see its power, they must see it practiced by every adult around them as well.”
Registration is $20 and includes a t-shirt for all participants who register by July 25. Shirts will be available for walk-up registrations on August 5 while supplies last. The registration form can be found at www.guessantibullying.com. Updates to the walk can be found on the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation Facebook page.
The Foundation has already secured support from Baptist Health Paducah, Four Rivers Behavioral Health, Murray State University, West Kentucky Community and Technical College, McCracken County Schools, Paducah Public Schools, Computer Services Inc. (CSI), Lourdes Hospital, Lundberg Medical, Wal-Mart, and Paducah Life. Bristol Broadcasting is the official media sponsor. Sponsors are still needed to cover the registration fees for athletes representing their schools at this event. Guess can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270.210.2434.