Kickstarting friendships

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By Zach Manges

JEM Jewellers, of Carmel, wants your help to stamp out bullying with their new line of charms and a Kickstarter campaign.

As part of a project to help foster friendships rather than animosity, owner Jan Martin and designer Sarah Clegg teamed up to create a charm that would be a symbol for all wearers to think before acting in a potentially harmful manner.

“The problem has gotten worse over the years with cyberbullying and the internet.  When I was in school, we didn’t have social media platforms, and now it’s just blown up,” Clegg said.  “Bullying has popped up in conversation a lot over the last couple years.  We had the ability to create this jewelry, so why not do it?”

The campaign is using popular crowd funder Kickstarter to raise $10,000 by Nov. 14 in order to be able to mass produce the charms for necklaces and bracelets, which have been dubbed the “Be a Friend, Not a Bully” line.  If the goal is reached, additional funds will go toward the Social Health Association of Indiana and their anti-bullying program Step Up for Kindness.

“We wanted to make sure we were giving the profits to a group that was really actively working and talking in the schools,” Martin said, emphasizing that an understanding of the issue must go hand-in-hand with the charms to truly make an impact. “Students have to buy into the program themselves. It’s not something you can just give out and expect them to not bully anymore. It has to be earned.”

Bullying is a formidable social issue, affecting one third of all youth in elementary and middle school and often creating ripple effects that can lead to serious mental health issues in later adolescence. Of course, the team acknowledges that making a dent in harmful behaviors in this case isn’t just about accessorizing.

“I think that bullying is going to happen no matter what.  You’ll have those people in life whether you’re 12 or 32 who’ll try to put you down because of their own insecurities,” Clegg said.  “We thought it was the best way to make a statement: to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and make the choice to be their friend.”

For more information visit www.facebook.com/JEMJewellers or visit JEM Jewellers at 14311 Clay Terrace Blvd, in Carmel.

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