This idea is excerpted from Barbara’s book “CARE Packages for the Home — Dozens of Ways to Regenerate Spirit Where You Live” (Andrews McMeel)
You can begin a focus on kindness in your home, organization, school, or even in your community. The beautiful little book Random Acts of Kindness has opened many people’s eyes to the positive impact of small deeds. Encouraging and celebrating these deeds in a formal way is the focus of a “Kindness Campaign.”
The Idea In Action:
Rita Blitt, a painter/sculptor from Leawood, Kansas, told me of a very special program which began in Kansas City with her words, “Kindness is Contagious . . . Catch it!” Several years ago a friend of hers asked Rita to create something “to send around the world to make the world a better place.” This was an awesome request, Rita felt, and she wondered if it was possible to create something that might have such a positive effect on the world. Several years later as she was driving and looking at bumper stickers, she said a number of things crossed her mind.
One was a call from a friend whom Rita had helped, wishing that she could repay her. When Rita said no, that wasn’t necessary, the friend responded that then she would do something nice for someone else. This excited Rita because it meant that her good deed would go on and on, and suddenly she thought, “KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS. . . CATCH IT!” She immediately called her friend SuEllen Fried and said, “I give you my words. Make magic with them.”
Rita envisioned a kindness program for children, and she knew that SuEllen could organize it. Soon after that, SuEllen, also of Kansas City and founder of the STOP Violence Coalition, involved several children’s classes in focus groups to talk about bullying and the cruelty of children to one another. To reduce the incidence of teasing, they came up with the idea of placing two jars in the classroom, one labeled “PUT DOWNS” and the other “PUT UPS.” Tokens of some kind would be placed around the jars, and whenever someone received a put-down or a put-up, they would place a token in the jar. As imagined, the visual concept had a dramatic impact on the behavior of the children, and they became much kinder to one another.
Barbara Unell, editor and publisher of TWINS magazine and a Board member of the STOP Violence Coalition, took this idea to the guidance counselor at her children’s school, and soon a program was born. Another idea called “Pass it On” was added. In this activity, when a teacher spotted a child performing a kind act, he/she placed a special eraser on the child’s desk and then asked that child to become the observer of a kind act and pass the eraser on.
Adults participate in this activity now by wearing a button that says, “Kindness is Contagious . . . Catch it!” and then pass it on to other people who perform acts of kindness. Legendary stories have evolved as these buttons have spread all over the world!
A partnership developed with a local TV station, KMBC-TV, which sends a letter out to every school district each fall asking the children to nominate the “Kindest Kansas Citians.” Over 4000 nominations are returned each year, and three winners are selected and honored at a Kindness dinner. Students write touching stories about coaches, teachers, school custodians, bus drivers, and others who have touched their lives, and the evening is filled with tears of joy.
At the very first Kindness dinner, Rita Blitt was asked to create a small sculpture for each of the “Kindest Kansas Citians” and to present each of the children who read their winning letters a print using her art work and her words, “Kindness is Contagious. . . Catch it!” Instead of ordering a few prints to be made, however, Rita decided to order 2500! She has made it a personal campaign to send them all over the world, whenever and wherever she has heard of a kind person, hoping to plant seeds of kindness. They have been sent to nearly every state as well as to 18 foreign countries.
The “Kindness is Contagious . . . Catch it!” activity program guide has now spread to 300 schools in the greater Kansas City area as well as 34 states and Ontario, Canada. Many, many folks have become involved in helping to bring more kindness and love to the lives of the residents of greater Kansas City as well as in other cities throughout North America. In 1996 a joint venture of the Stop Violence Coalition and the United Way held the first “Corporate Kindness Day” in Kansas City the week of February 14, and I was asked to be their keynote speaker. As the circle of good deeds grows, that kindness and love is spread throughout the world.
The program guide on Kindness lists “10 Ways You Can Help Spread an Epidemic of Kindness” that we can all apply in our everyday work lives:
- Take time to listen.
- Give praise when earned.
- Forgive someone who hurt you.
- Apologize for something you’ve done wrong.
- Do a favor for someone in need.
- Give hugs.
- Compromise. Don’t start a fight.
- Negotiate. Don’t blame.
- Empathize. Don’t gossip.
- Problem-solve. Don’t tease or name-call.
No matter where you live, you can begin a campaign of Kindness. What a very special way to add more caring and spirit to our world!
In the words of Ivan Misic, the Ambassador to the UN from the Republic of Bosnia and Herzogovina, “The highest form of power is not the allocation of external resources, but the harnessing of internal ones. Let us harness the love of all the people of the world. Love, and love alone, can undo hatred.” For information on the Kindness campaign, see the listing for the STOP Violence Coalition in the Resources section of the book.
Barbara Glanz Biography
A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.barbaraglanz.com.