Orly Whaba, Life Vest Inside
by Josh Brewer
Aug 07, 2013 | 19368 views | 0 0 comments | 104 104 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Life Vest Inside, a program founded by Sheepshead Bay resident Orly Wahba to combat bullying and teen depression, is getting national attention.

“As a child I had very, very low self-esteem,” Wahba said. “It was a very tough time in my life.”

Whaba was a teacher for seven years, during which she first instituted acts of kindness cards in her middle school classroom. Students had to act out whatever action was on the card, and pass them on to other students.

“When you do something for others, that fills you with the greatest feeling of self-value,” Wahba said.

While teaching, Wahba produced a film about how kindness can make changes in everyone’s life to help people of all ages avoid the depression she experienced as a child. Unexpectedly, her film was viewed over nine million times on the Internet and elicited a global response.

Wahba is now taking a leave of absence from her teaching job to fully commit to Life Vest Inside. LVI identifies four steps to kindness by first inspiring people to commit acts of kindness through social media, then engaging participants in kindness flash mobs, mission days, and fun-runs.

Wahba identified the third step as Kindness Curriculum, which promotes kindness, tolerance, and social interaction among students from kindergarten to fifth grade. The curriculum includes awareness to stop bullying, increase self-esteem, and cultivate compassion.

“We help to build self-esteem in the belief that once people see the value within themselves, they will begin to see that value in others,” Wahba said. “In English class, you are not just getting the [core] curriculum, but also acts of kindness.”

Through this program, levels of bullying and substance abuse go down, according to Wahba. “It’s not about using negative language to fight something negative,” she said. “Instead of fighting against a bully, empower someone.”

Live Vest Inside has now reached out to 20 million people across 15 countries.

“Life Vest Inside inspires people to recognize the potential they have to affect real and positive change in this world through kindness.”

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