Crown Princess Mary donates $50,000 to beat bullying in Australian early years
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark’s non-profit organisation, The Mary Foundation, is donating $50,000 to Australian national children’s charity, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, in recognition of the Princess’ 50th birthday and the Alannah & Madeline Foundation’s 25th anniversary.
The Mary Foundation was established in 2007 by the Crown Princess to prevent social exclusion in Denmark, and its first focus area was in childhood bullying and wellbeing.
As the Alannah & Madeline Foundation’s International Patron since 2005, Crown Princess Mary said it’s Better Buddies initiative provided the inspiration for The Mary Foundation’s first and largest program, Free of Bullying.
“In 2005, even before The Mary Foundation was founded, I had the idea for a new initiative focusing on tackling bullying among children. The idea was inspired by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation’s program, Better Buddies,” the Crown Princess said.
The Free of Bullying project began to take shape in Save the Children Denmark. Later, when The Mary Foundation was founded in 2007, The Mary Foundation and Save the Children Denmark worked together to further develop and spread the Free of Bullying program. Today, Free of Bullying has been implemented in more than half of all Denmark’s childcare facilities and in nearly half of all schools and after school clubs.
“From my very first experience with Better Buddies, I could see that the approach could be something very special in terms of creating communities and togetherness among children,” the Crown Princess shared.
“It seemed clear to me that Denmark could take inspiration from Better Buddies. It has been very rewarding, and we are grateful for the starting point it has given us in The Mary Foundation’s work to combat bullying.”
Helle Østergaard, director of the Mary Foundation, said that thousands of Danish children had benefited from learning about the values of tolerance, respect, care and courage through Free of Bullying over the past 15 years
“Our evaluations show that preschool children who work with Free of Bullying clearly demonstrate greater empathy than children who do not work with the program. And they’re better at handling bullying and teasing. Without the inspiration of Better Buddies, Free of Bullying would not have become what it is today. Therefore, we would like to say thank you and give a little back with the donation to the Alannah & Madeline Foundation,” she added.
Free of Bullying has been adapted to Danish conditions and Danish day care centres, preschools and schools. But the Foundation’s iconic purple teddy bear, Buddy Bear, can also be found in the Free of Bullying universe.
The Crown Princess, and in turn The Mary Foundation was thanked for the generous support by Alannah & Madeline Foundation CEO Sarah Davies, who said the 17-year-old relationship with Crown Princess Mary is so highly valued.
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation was founded in 1997, one year after the Port Arthur tragedy, by Walter Mikac AM in memory of his two young daughters – Alannah and Madeline – who were tragically killed that day.
Twenty-five years on, its vision is that all children and young people are safe, inspired and have freedom to flourish – to protect them from harm, to ensure those touched by violence can heal from it, and to serve as a beacon of hope for a better, safer world.
To learn more about the work of Free of Bullying in an early childhood context see here. Information about The Mary Foundation is available here, alongside information about the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.
Image credit: The Mary Foundation/Steen Brogaard
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