The Sanford Harmony Program is an initiative for understanding and enhancing relationships among girls and boys.
In 2008, businessman and philanthropist, T. Denny Sanford, approached the president of Arizona State University, Dr. Michael Crow, with an idea for improving relationships between men and women. A partnership was created with the ASU School of Social and Family Dynamics to design a program based on the premise that early experiences lay the foundation for harmonious relationships in the future.
It is well-documented that as early as age three, children start showing a clear preference for interacting with same-gender peers. This preference increases with age, as boys and girls continue to develop social, emotional, and behavioral skills in isolation of one another. It has often been said that boys and girls grow-up in “two separate worlds.” With this reality in mind, it should come as no surprise that when boys and girls begin to show an interest in each other, they are often ill-prepared to interact and communicate in positive ways.
The Sanford Harmony Program (SHP) was created to bridge the gender divide by providing girls and boys with opportunities and support for positive peer classroom interactions and friendships, laying the foundation for healthy and successful relationships throughout the early childhood years and beyond. The program will expand in the future to cover a wide range of ages but at this point addresses relationships in early childhood (preschool) and fifth-grade classrooms. The Sanford Harmony Program is based on the belief that facilitating harmonious relationships between boys and girls will improve the learning environment and set the stage for positive relationships throughout a lifetime.
SHP supports children, teachers, and parents in viewing gender through a different lens. By bringing kids together and providing opportunities for positive interactions, we aspire to make a difference in the ways that boys and girls treat and think about each other.