“The Westport Kindness Project seeks to engage as many community members as possible in recognizing and highlighting simple acts of kindness in Westport,” said Daignault. “The goal is to improve the overall climate of our community by offering a platform to acknowledge those who take the time to be kind to others.”
The idea for the project came from several discussions about the fast pace of our community and what many perceive to be the lack of civility in everyday interactions. Youth Commission member Andy Moss pitched the idea to the commission last spring. The newly formed Staples High School K2BK Club was the perfect partner to help spread the message to the entire community.
The Westport Kindness Project is now a youth-led initiative, which coincides with much of the work that the Kool to be Kind program has been promoting in Westport schools - to treat others with kindness and respect.
“The first phase of the project is to seek further ideas and input from kids as well as adults through a town-wide challenge to create art work, videos, and photos to promote the campaign and inspire others to spread the kindness in Westport,” said Moss.
Student leaders Leigh Rubin, the vice chairperson of the Youth Commission, and Staples K2BK Club founders Jackson Yang and Michaela MacDonald have been working with their peers and supportive adults like Youth Commission member and K2BK parent volunteer Marianne Goodell, to make the program a reality. Together they have solicited the help of two local marketing firms to craft the campaign and will serve as Kindness Ambassadors, along with other Youth Commission and K2BK members.
Yang described the role of the Kindness Ambassadors as “card carrying adults and kids whose role is to acknowledge people engaged in kind acts by presenting them with a Kindness Card that thanks them for their kindness.”
“Kindness Cards can then be brought to a participating business to redeem for a discount or freebie,” said McDonald. “It’s similar to the pay it forward concept we teach in the Kool to be Kind Program with the third graders - if you do something nice, it will spread to others and ultimately start a trend.”
Rubin agreed, “We hope that this initiative will not only bring more business to local merchants who were kind enough to support the project, but it will also raise awareness of how simple acts of kindness can make a difference in all of our lives.”
“Once The Westport Kindness Project 2012 has hit the streets, both paved and virtual, organizers hope that community members will become Kindness Ambassadors themselves by capturing and sharing public acts of kindness by uploading photos, messages and/or personal stories on the website,” said Daignault. “We hope that our website will inspire others to take action in making a difference.”
“The list of participating merchants will be posted on the website soon but in the meantime, we encourage the community to take extra care to be more kind and considerate around town,” she said.
Goodell said, “You never know who could be watching or how far the good karma can take us all."