Thanks to the Central Okanagan Foundation, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan has been able to undertake some research he otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
Dr. John Tyler Binfet, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, used funding he received from COF to conduct a pair of studies about kindness in schools. Dr. Binfet conducted the first study in 2013, and then the second in 2015.
“The first study was critical, I developed a school kindness scale that had never been done before,” he explained. “It paved the way for quantifying how kind schools are. A mission of COF is to make communities better, and this research helps feed that. The studies wouldn’t have happened without the support.”
Binfet’s research has paid off, as the two studies have spawned a number of professional development workshops for teachers in the Central Okanagan School District based around the findings on kindness, and how teachers can help to promote it.
“COF has been pivotal in my work,” Binfet described. “They took a leap of faith in me from the start. I had moved from Los Angeles, I had no contacts, and they funded a study in the Central Okanagan School District that surveyed 1,753 students. Then I was able to do a second study two years later looking at teacher’s perception of kindness in school.”
Binfet’s studies found that the school district was at the forefront on promoting kindness and wellbeing, with grade four students standing out the most. He also found that as students aged, their perceptions of kindness decreased. Binfet also discovered children have a tendency to enact kindness on people they already know, and now he has a goal of helping them be kind to a broader audience.
“I’m incredibly grateful to COF, because they saw the potential for the good in the community I could facilitate,” he said. “They supported a number of students on campus to help me, and I can’t thank them enough for all they did to help me.”
COF has also helped UBCO in other ways aside from Binfet’s research, contributing $30,000 for Theatre26, $1,000 annually for the Okanagan Short Story Contest, and providing numerous External Undergraduate Awards and bursaries since 2005.