“We are never explicitly taught how to love,” says Katie Hood, CEO of the One Love Foundation, during her powerful and popular TED Talk on understanding and practicing the art of healthy relationships.
Founded in 2010 in honor of Yardley Love, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend, the One Love Foundation is a non-profit focused on educating young people about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships using an innovative, prevention-focused approach. One Love’s award-winning, peer-to peer educational workshops have reached 750,000 young people across the country, and over 100 million have engaged with One Love’s educational campaigns online.
Hood visited ECFS on Wednesday, November 20, meeting with parents and guardians from 5th–12th Grade to discuss healthy relationship habits as well as how to spot the early signs of unhealthy or abusive behavior. By educating young people — as well as adults — about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, Hood hopes to derail abusive behavior before it starts, with the goal of impacting the relationship health of an entire generation.
We are never explicitly taught how to love.
Hood’s visit to campus is just one way ECFS is prioritizing health and wellness education for both students and families. As Head of School Jessica Bagby explains in her vision statement, “all of our noblest and most pragmatic aims for children depend on their social, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health.” Ensuring that students are engaging in positive and safe relationships is a critical step to their overall well-being and success at ECFS.
That effort begins with recognizing red flags. “Understanding the signs of unhealthy love can help you audit and understand nearly every relationship in your life,” says Hood.
During her talk, Hood focused on ways to talk to children about healthy relationships, including those who may not be dating yet. Hood encouraged parents to focus on friendships in younger children, and to point out both positive and potentially negative behaviors. By addressing these issues early and directly, Hood argues that we can change the conversation and the norms surrounding abusive relationships.
“One Love is a lot about language. It’s about creating a language for things we don’t know how to talk about,” she told the audience.
After the presentation, parents asked questions such as: “How does social media affect young people’s relationships?” Another parent asked: “How will ECFS introduce this program to students?”
Hood answered each question thoughtfully and thoroughly, and provided resources for families who want to learn more about online dating (One Love recently launched the “Behind the Post” campaign, which focuses on the impact social media has on relationships.) Fieldston Middle Principal Chia-Chee Chiu chimed in to discuss how ECFS is already implementing resources from One Love, starting with 7th Graders — students were recently shown the “Couplets” video campaign.
Hood closed out the evening by encouraging families to model positive relationships whenever possible. “Kids are always watching and learning from us,” she said. She acknowledged that, at one time or another, everyone will falter — she still catches herself exhibiting unhealthy behaviors now and then. The goal is not to be perfect, but to be honest, reflective, and communicative.
“We can all love better.”