By Carolyn Marnon – “You can’t let bad things that happen to you define you. You have the power to change how you look at things and can make a positive difference for others,” declares Emma Socia, the 11-year old CEO of Empower Kindness. Empower is Emma’s nickname. She’s had it since the first grade when she and her best friend were trying to come up with names for each other. Emma even jokes that she and her friend, Zoe, are going to open a law firm one day and call it E-Z Law. There is joy that radiates from this young girl as she explains how Empower Kindness came about.
Last April, Emma was riding the school bus home when a boy poured a homemade concoction made with vinegar, mustard, ketchup and what may have been bleach, over her head as he was leaving the bus. The result temporarily blinded her. Even though this boy had called her names before, and now he had assaulted her, she still chose to use the incident to spread a message of kindness. Thus, Empower Kindness was born.
In August, Emma was recognized at a Wayne City Council meeting for her efforts to stop bullying and promote kindness. One of the ways Emma tries to promote kindness is through the sale of blue/red rubber bracelets that state “Empower Kindness.” She sells the bracelets on her website, www.EmpowerKindness-.com. for $4. However, if you go to Wayne City Hall or meet with Emma in person, the bracelets are only $2. The funds she has raised have gone toward t-shirts that spread the “stop bullying” message.
Emma is in 6th grade at John Marshall Upper Elementary. She has just finished a busy season of cheering with the Westland Comets. She has high school kids who are mentoring her on her journey to spread kindness. In July, they held a rally at John Marshall that attracted 250 kids. Emma was able to hand out 250 of her bracelets that day as a labor of love. Xavier Edwards, Kimari Johnson and Andre Brown, John Glenn students who had formed their own anti-bullying foundation, were speakers at the rally.
Emma’s efforts to promote kindness and end bullying have also included doing a t-shirt giveaway at Westland Mall. She asked young people and teenagers whether they had been bullied and what should someone do if they are bullied and videotaped it for her Facebook page. She has received a $500 donation from the Westland Police Department to help her in her efforts.
Empower Kindness is collecting scarves to hand out to homeless people. If you would like to donate, you can send scarves to Emma at P.O. Box 851397, Westland, MI 48185.
Emma sells t-shirts on her website for $15-$20. With the proceeds, Emma plans to buy toys for kids in Detroit. The Children’s Center in Detroit has a Holiday Shop where a parent in need can go to pick out a toy for their child. Emma wants to donate to the shop.
Emma would like to see more programs in school about anti-bullying and would like to hold a rally at the schools. However, she and her mother, Teri Socia, have discovered that there are many rules in the school district about assemblies and programs. Kids Empowered, a program out of Birmingham, MI that teaches kids to be empowered and to not be victims, is one of the programs Teri and Emma would like to bring to the Wayne Westland School District in the future.
Emma says the good that has come out of an unfortunate experience is the creation of Empower Kindness, getting the word out about anti-bullying, creating more awareness about bullying, and also encouraging others to “pay it forward” with kindness.
At the end of the day, Emma just wants to help other people. She encourages random acts of kindness. “If you’re kind, you may be able to stop the bullying,” says Emma’s mother. With the overwhelming community support Emma has received, Emma will continue to spread the word against bullying and about being kind. She doesn’t focus on one subject-anti-bullying or kindness. She believes they are intertwined.
She’s passionate for what she does and has so much support. There’s no doubt Emma will reach her goal of being a lawyer one day, and a compassionate one at that.