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Crown Princess Mary celebrated her foundation’s work at the annual reception

The Danish Crown Princess Mary has used her Australian roots as inspiration for her work here in the Mary Fonden. Yesterday all participating partners celebrated its work at the annual Christmas reception.

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By Bente D. Knuds

A recurring event is the annual reception at her home at Amalienborg Palace where Crown Princess Mary invites all the foundation’s partners to have a glass of gløgg and Danish æbleskiver to celebrate the past year’s achievements.

She launched her foundation, Mary Fonden, as cutting red ribbons and looking good in a beautiful dress and elaborate hat was not enough for Crown Prince Mary. After the first few years of marriage, she had finally decided what to do with the “small” sum of DKK 1.1 million raised in Denmark and Greenland at the occasion of the Crown Prince Couple’s wedding in 2004.

She used the sum to start her royal foundation, actually just called Mary Fonden in Danish, with no allusion to the royal background. However, the sum was not enough to launch all the projects Crown Princess Mary and the foundation had in mind.

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Looking around at the many foundations in Denmark – all major Danish corporations have foundations – think of the Carlsberg Foundation, Augustinus Fonden, A.P. Møller Maersk Fonden, and Novo Nordisk – just to mention a handful, so Crown Princess Mary decided to ask for more capital from some of the others around.

Today the many projects are funded with the help of the capital stock provided by a group of eight co-founders and other foundations in Denmark. They have ensured a solid economic foundation and the capital stock now stands at around DKK 150 million.

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This capital stock has been set aside and remains untouched, while the full annual return is used to combat social isolation within The Mary Foundation’s three focus areas: Bullying & Well-being, Domestic Violence and Loneliness.

Crown Princess Mary emphasises in many interviews that she has always been particularly conscious of the people who are not part of a group, who are all alone and unable to understand why they are excluded from the community.

Through her foundation, her desire to do something for the socially isolated has been realised.

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The first focus area was Bullying and well-being which Crown Princess Mary brought with her from Australia when she developed the Free of Bullying project on her initiative, after being inspired by the Better Buddies programme, introduced by the Australian organisation The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, in her native Australia.

Free of Bullying is a pedagogic anti-bullying programme that strives to prevent bullying in preschools, after-care centres and primary schools among 3 to 8 year-old’s. It consists of a suitcase with pedagogical tools such as Buddy Bear, conversation boards and the use of rhythm.

These tools enable teachers to talk to the children with ease about an otherwise abstract subject such as bullying. And studies show that many of the children become more caring toward each other, while no less than 98% of teachers would recommend Free of Bullying to other institutions.

Bullying actually rarely occurs when the children in a group have been made aware of the difference between teasing for fun and teasing for real. And when they learn that it is cool to be able to say no and help others.

It is clear that children attending preschools and schools that work intensively with Free of Bullying are significantly better at handling teasing and bullying,”says Jan Kampmann, professor at the Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University on the Mary Foundation’s homepage.

Free of Bullying was introduced in 2007 as the first of the foundation’s projects and is now being implemented by more than 1,400 preschools and 520 primary schools and after-school centres.

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Pictures: Mayra Navarrete, Bente D. Knudsen, Inger Stokkink,  Mary Fonden (Steen Brogaard)