Chase Masterson has spent her adult life acting. Star Trek fans know her as Leeta from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the lovely Dabo girl who falls in love with Quark’s brother, Rom. She found happiness in fiction, but the real world didn’t always treat her kindly. She was bullied as a child and was a victim of a terrifying stalker incident which changed the course of her life. She began mentoring kids that were coming out of gangs, and she asked the kids what had gotten them involved in lives of pain. They all told her the same thing. They’d been bullied, so they went to the gang for support.
While attending Star Trek conventions, she began to wonder how to harness the power of those conventions and the impact of Star Trek, which promotes unity and the promise of a better future, to prevent other people from going through what she and those former gang members had gone through. In 2013, Chase Masterson and Carrie Goldman, the mother of a bullied child and author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear, founded the Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition, enlisted the United Nations Association and the NOH8 Campaign as partners, and created the first-ever panel on ending bullying at a pop culture convention.
The urge to merge onscreen heroism and social justice became the non-profit organization which uses “evidence-based psychology in combination with heroic characters and stories, teaching social emotional learning and bullying prevention in ways that children and teens find relatable.” And then The Heroic Journey Curriculum was created.
The pilot program began in 2019 and is used in schools from grades K-8 to make mental health tools relatable and to end bullying in all its forms. The Heroic Journey Curriculum, which teaches children how to handle external and internal conflict and offers free emotional support tools, was created by four psychologists and veteran educators.
Unsurprisingly, Star Trek fans and actors have embraced this mission. Star Trek The Cruise has allowed Pop Culture Hero to utilize space aboard the cruise to talk about the work they are doing and to sell Be Kind merchandise that benefits the non-profit. (You can join Star Trek actors by embracing the mission at bekindmerch.org.) Pop Culture has also had presentations aboard the cruises to overwhelmingly positive responses.
Pop Culture Hero Coalition is dedicated to helping end bullying and to building healthy identity, empathy, and other crucial skills. These educators, psychologists, authors, and artists care about making the world a better place for kids, and they know the importance of creating meaningful dialogue to help these future heroes.
On Thursday, March 25th, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Chase Masterson will host a Facebook Live Event “Resilience, Empathy, Healthy Screen-Time: An Honest Conversation. Also joining will be Jameela Jamil from The Good Place and The Misery Index, comedian Joe Gatto of Impractical Jokers and The Misery Index, and a team of renowned psychologists and experts. The event will “feature meaningful and educational discussions with experts and authors on the topics of youth mental health, trauma, and resiliency one year into our screen-dependent pandemic.”
Joe Gatto, who has worked with Pop Culture Coalition for several years, including in the Be Kind campaign, has seen firsthand the impact they make as he told Forbes. “Broadening the reach of the Coalition’s work with this partnership is a powerful step for the lives of kids and teens. It’s really exciting to see them grow and be able to do so much more good in the world.”
Impacting the world for good can start with helping just one person or volunteering for one non-profit. As Chase says:
“We all have ability to bring healing to the world. It’s easy to sit and think, ‘What could I possibly do?’ and feel overwhelmed and helpless. But we can all get involved in some aspect of making the world better. Here’s what I learned: just keep doing the next right thing, for other people, and for yourself. There are so many things we can do to be heroes. It’s fun. And it all ties in with the meaning of Star Trek.”