Lady Gaga launched her Born This Way Foundation at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSW), with Oprah, Deepak Chopra, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, her mother and the first Born This Way teen representative, Alyssa Rodemeyer, who lost her brother to bullying.
I was honored to be included in the festivities and am proud to connect Make It Better with the Foundation and HGSE, and to encourage you to help too. Oprah lent her support because the Born This Way Foundation aligns with her values of “kindness, compassion, empowerment, and acceptance.”
Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, have a brilliant vision—start a movement online and in person—that empowers teens and others to create a more loving and supportive culture for each other.
“Call upon yourself to know that you are great … and join our journey,” Gaga said at the launch on March 1. She wants teens to feel brave enough to respond to bullying with love and acceptance, and to create a safe place for individuality.
When asked how hard it is to change the world, Gaga responded, “Not very hard at all…It’s surprising how many people want to bring humankind together to do great things.”
According to the Berkman Center, “the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) has partnered with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment and The Berkman Center at Harvard to explore the best ways to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment. BTWF, a non-profit charitable organization, will address issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development and advocacy. With a focus on digital mobilization to create positive change, BTWF will lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be.”
The Foundation does not intend to provide fast answers to the question of how to stop bullying. Rather, Gaga and her mother want it to be a place of grass roots connection and empowerment which spurs “the three pillars of human development: safety, skills and opportunity.”
Gaga’s movement also includes the “Born Brave” bus, which will travel with her tour, her goal of at least one youth representative at every school in the country, a soon to launch social network, and her repeated requests to “Use me” and “Connect with us, send us your research and ideas.”
Alyssa Rodemeyer, of Buffalo, New York, was selected as the first Born This Way Teen Representative because of her response when she lost her brother, Jamey, to bullying. She started “Jamey’s Hope – a movement to stop bullying.” Alyssa explained, “I try to be a good role model, be brave and speak up when I see bullying.”
Gaga called her mother “the sole reason that I am here today. She has always believed in me and she makes me want to inject that sense of family and support into the world.” For this reason, Gaga also hopes the movement will provide opportunities for all teens to feel the type of nuclear family support that she has always enjoyed.
Love, kindness, safety, skills, opportunity, connection, empowerment, a strong nuclear family—these values will definitely make the world better and are worthy of as much support as we can give them! We hope that Gaga is right – by working together toward these laudable goals, it will be easy to change the world for the better.
Please join us on the journey too.
For more on this topic, please see the Harvard Ed Cast featuring Oprah talking about bullying.
Susan B. Noyes
Founder, Make It Better