'Feelings matter': Activist encourages children to be kind, do good, stand up for themselves

·2 min read

Jul. 24—COLONY — Children in the Tom Bevill Library's summer program got a lesson about bullying and conflict resolution this week from a special guest speaker.

Carlos Chaverst, Jr., founder of the Carlos Chaverst Social Justice Foundation, stopped by Colony's library on Tuesday to share stories about his own life and speak with the kids about how they can overcome bullying or peer pressure and focus on becoming more confident in themselves.

He encouraged them to be nice to others, but also cautioned that everyone would not always be nice back to them.

"We have to learn how to adapt to other people and who they are," he said.

Even if someone is being mean or being a bully, continuing to be the better person is the best way to overcome that and will hopefully lead them to take a closer look at themselves, Chaverst said.

"We can tell people all day, 'I'm not mean like you,' but that probably won't change a person," he said. "But what could possibly change them is continuing to see the good you are doing and how nice you are."

Chaverst also encouraged the children to share their feelings, even if they feel pressure to to keep their thoughts or feelings inside.

"The stigma is that men, young men and boys in general don't like to talk, but it's okay to talk," he said. "It's okay to let people know what's going on. It's okay to let people know something's bothering you.You have feelings, and feelings matter."

Chaverst said he and his foundation work to help underprivileged communities both in his native Birmingham and in his current home in Denver, Colorado.

"This is what I love, being able to help other young people," he said.

Along with speaking with children in the community, Chaverst has spearheaded a gas giveaway that gave away 4,000 gallons of gasoline to families in need during the pandemic, hosting free movie nights at local theaters and bringing Santa Claus in for free photos for families who may not be able to afford pictures in malls or other places.

"We really try to fill voids in our community," he said.

The foundation also puts an emphasis on justice, and works with Crime Stoppers to add an additional $500 reward for information leading to arrests in crimes involving women or children, he said.

Chaverst said he also tries to get out to speak with kids about bullying or peer pressure, and because he personally faced some of those same issues as a child, talks like the one in Colony add a more personal touch to the discussion.

"It was a little bit more emotional," he said. "I was able to connect with young people in a more personal and unique way."

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