Lady and the Blog Exclusive Interview with Keenan West For the Secret Mean Stinks Campaign @meanstinks
Singer Keenan West is partnering with Secret Deodorant for a unique campaign that is sure to make a difference in the lives of kids everywhere. They have launched the Secret Mean Stinks campaign to raise awareness about anti-bullying. Keenan and Secret will visit at least 75 schools and hold assemblies to educate and empower kids around their message. Lady and the Blog spoke to Keenan about this incredible tour and found out what inspired him to focus on anti-bullying.
- Tell us a bit about your campaign with Secret Mean Stinks.
This year I’ve partnered with Secret Mean Stinks to join them in the fourth year of their mission to bring an end to bullying. They are a brand that has educated and empowered teens to rise above mean behavior and take a stand to end bullying; this is the same mission that I have dedicated my life to with my Bully PREVENTION assemblies. With Secret Mean Stinks’ support, I can bring these essential lessons to so many more schools across the country through our Secret Mean Stinks Nicest. Tour. Ever. The tour will bring my anti-bullying assemblies to at least 75 schools across the country during the 2014-2015 school year.
- What inspired you to choose anti-bullying as your message? Was there a particular experience that launched this desire in you?
Growing up, my mother and grandmother taught my sister and I to treat others with honor and respect from an early age – and this is something I have carried with me throughout my entire life. In 2012, I created an anti-bullying music video entitled “Never Ever,” exemplifying how I was taught to treat others, and it caught the attention of several anti-bullying organizations who asked if I could speak to students across the country. I began to research what type of bully prevention education was already out there and realized that young people were in need of a different kind of anti-bullying assembly to really grab and inspire them to help make a difference in putting an end to bullying and mean behavior.
- So, the plan is to do 75 assemblies in the 2014-2015 school year. How do you feel about that?
I couldn’t be more excited! Being able to combine my two passions of music and bully prevention by speaking to and performing in front of hundreds of students all around the country is a dream come true and an extremely rewarding experience. I love being on the front lines, personally meeting the students affected by this issue, sharing advice and resources through my partnership with Secret Mean Stinks and seeing how students implement what they learn into their own schools.
- What makes your anti-bullying message different from the rest? Why are kids listening?
My assemblies are unique because I really get on the students’ level and make the experience exciting, engaging and relatable. It is definitely not your typical lecture. I bring in pop culture references that make kids understand the problem in a different way and get them directly involved with dancing and singing, engaging the whole audience to listen to the important lessons and stories I am sharing. These elements, combined with the valuable lessons from Secret Mean Stinks and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospitals’ proven anti-bullying curriculum, really help kids take ownership of bringing an end to bullying at their school and among their friends, as well as arm educators and parents with actionable tools they can use to support their kids in ending bullying.
- Why did you choose Secret to partner with? What is it about their message that connects them to yours?
Secret is a brand that encourages women and girls to live fearlessly and that’s why they created the Mean Stinks program three years ago – to educate and empower girls to live their lives fearlessly by taking a stand against what may have prevented them from being fearless: mean behavior. My assemblies talk about courage, and the ability to act courageously comes from being fearless. Secret Mean Stinks and I share this spirit, and through it, seek to empower students to take on the responsibility of ending bullying through both their own actions and by supporting their peers who have the courage to take a stand against mean behavior when they see it.
- What happens after the assembly ends? Will there be any plans in place in the schools to address bullying then?
Secret Mean Stinks believes the power to make a difference is in the student’s hands, and that is what the entire program and my assemblies aim to do – educate, inspire and ultimately empower the students to take the knowledge and resources we give them and really make it their own within their own school. Mean Stinks isn’t just one assembly or one event, they have built an incredible platform for students to turn to year-round with resources from Mean Stinks and inspiration shared by fellow students on www.MeanStinks.com and via their Twitter and Facebook pages. Students can turn to these sites 24/7 to find nice advice, ideas to bring into their own schools and a place to connect with others who are joining the same movement to end mean by Ganging Up for Good.
Starting this month, students can also visit www.MeanStinks.com to find suggested challenges or “acts of nice” to complete and, in April, they will have the opportunity to share and submit their three nicest acts for a chance to win the title of Mean Stinks’ “Nicest School in America.” Additionally, in January, Secret Mean Stinks will host its second annual Biggest. Assembly Ever., bringing students across the nation together to resolve to stand up against bullying in one live-streaming assembly. With a goal of 1,000 participating schools, I will host the assembly and also debut my custom created Mean Stinks anti-bullying song, featuring lyrics taken straight from real girls’ messages submitted via our social channels.
- Can you share any anecdotes about the effect of your message on kids or any one kid in particular?
The student response I get following my assemblies is the reason I do what I do. Following my visit, students tell me that they now see their place in the movement. Some didn’t realize that they were the bully and left with a whole new perspective. Others become motivated to find a way to do something to make a difference at their own school. When I enter a school with the Secret Mean Stinks Nicest. Tour. Ever., I pass on our joint mission to end mean and spread niceness directly to the students, and watching how they take those lessons to come-up with their own approach to put an end to bullying is the greatest reward of all to me.
For more information on the Secret Mean Stinks campaign, click here.