In 2011, Shadi Pourkashef, a mother, composer/conductor and a teacher, felt the direct consequences of bullying as her then 8 year old son was subjected to what she can only describe as “horrendous ongoing peer bullying.”
Recognized for her fierce advocacy to find a solution, she was chosen by the Woodcanyon Elementary school principal to become the CAC (Community Advisory Committee) Representative for the Capistrano Unified School District. For Shadi the urgency to address her son’s situation quickly turned into an urgency to address this epidemic within her community.
In 2012, Shadi was asked to become a board member of the CAC, serving on the Ability Awareness Programs Committee. While this committee had developed wonderful teaching programs on tolerance, acceptance and understanding towards children with special needs, it became apparent that the area of bullying wasn’t being directly addressed.
Later that year, during a CAC meeting, Shadi Pourkashef and another member serving on the same committee, Kelly McKinnon Burmingham, MA, BCBA, saw the opportunity to fill in where their proposed programs had limited reach. Shortly after, together they founded Ability Awareness Project.
AAP has developed a total of 10 presentations for parents, educators and students providing anti-bullying education that addresses three distinct groups: for the bullies to choose a kinder option, those being bullied to build resilience and feel empowered & bystanders to safely and effectively intervene; not only to identify and put a stop to all six types of bullying but also move towards becoming our next generation of leaders and peacemakers. Thus far, AAP school presentations have reached over ten thousand children.
AAP has also developed 25 Kindness Programs, one for each week of school to continue the momentum, keep the students attention on Kindness and thus create an inclusive kind culture at the schools.
AAP was operating under the 501(c)(3) status of Center For Conscious Creativity from January 2013 to December of 2017 in Los Angeles. As of January 2018 "Ability Awareness Project" operates under the Fiscal Sponsorship of OneOC benefiting from the organization's wide range of support as well as their 60 years of expertise in the world of nonprofit, specifically in Orange County.
AAP has 12 active advisory board members, each with specialized training to bring relevant value in shaping and refining AAP’s contribution to the community.
We believe the status quo is unacceptable.
We believe as human being we can do better.
We are determined to guide our next generation towards a greater social interconnection along a humanistic path.
OUR MISSION IS TO BUILD A UNITED INTERCONNECTED WORLD, FREE OF BULLYING.
Our Vision is to ensure that everyone is respectful and kind to one another and that no one suffers from social isolation and bullying.