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Choose kindness

February 2, 2017 - Tiffany Larson
Kindness is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a kind deed; the quality or state of being kind. One simple word that has the potential to make ripple effects; at home, at school, in your community, and in the world. It can be life-changing. Each and everyone has the power to share friendliness, generosity, and consideration with others. It's actions have no age requirement. Whether you are young or old, you have the choice to sprinkle kindness wherever you go. This often neglected human connection has the ability to move mountains. Each and everyone of us should be spreading it with others daily.

February is the perfect month to remind us how truly important kindness is. We can look at it as a kick-start to the rest of the year. Heck, there is even one week already set aside for just that. Random Acts of Kindness Week will be taking place February 12-18 this year. It is dedicated to encouraging kindness efforts. A Kindness Generator website is being launched by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, and individuals and organizations will be rallying to create and share acts of kindness across the world. My questions to you are, what can you do? How can you focus on bringing love, joy, peace, support, and kindness to others? How can you make a ripple of kindness here locally?

Need some ideas? No worries. I have ten ideas to help motivate you. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as YOU choose kindness.

1. Prosper Challenge- The ISU Extension and Outreach Office of Hamilton County has a Prosper Team. One Program offered by the group is the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth ages 10-14. Last year the group launched a Prosper “Selfie Challenge” to help raise awareness for the program. The Challenge is returning again this year, and anyone in Hamilton County will be able to take part. Rules for the Challenge will be launched soon, but pretty much make sure to snap photos of your random acts. Those pictures can be submitted for a chance to win some awesome local prizes if you post with the appropriate hashtag on social media (#prosperchallengehc).

2. The Kindness Revolution- Have you seen the Kindness Revolution in Webster City, led by Jerry Goebel at State Farm? If not, you should totally check it out! People can nominate individuals helping to make a positive difference in the community. Their random acts of kindness are then recognized with some pretty neat swag from local businesses, and even highlighted on the radio. Be sure to“like”their Facebook page for more information.

3. Giving Back and Volunteering- Need ideas on local groups or non-profits to help support or volunteer for? There is a Community Resource Directory ( full of providers serving prenatal to gerontology in a four-county area that I am sure will welcome you with open arms. Want to know what some of the community needs are in the Hamilton County area that you can help make an impact with? Visit with the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation and Power Up YOUth. Both recently completed a needs assessment, and both show gaps in similar areas that could use support.

4. Approachable Adults and Mentors-One of the needs mentioned in both of the assessments listed above were youth-adult interactions. This included mentors, authentic conversations between youth and adults, and more opportunities for positive interactions! I can attest that we as adults can step up our game in being more approachable with youth. It pulls on my heart strings when I ask youth to list 1-3 adults in their lives that they find approachable or that they can talk to, and their responses include being unable to identify even just one. We need to engage in a friendly hello, a handshake, and a smile so that it leads to more conversations and more interactions. This takes involvement from both youth and adults, but together is doable.

5. Supporting Causes- Whether it is helping raise funds to offset medical expenses for someone battling an illness, baking goodies for the local library, or throwing a team together for a local charity event, find your niche. In fact, SHIFT (Students Helping IMPACT Future Teens) Happens is hosting their Annual Dodge For A Cause Event on February 24. There will be a middle school, high school, and a family/community combo team bracket available. All money donated will go toward purchasing items for Special Education Teachers' programming at four of the school buildings in the Webster City Community School District. These items will enhance student engagement and encourage inclusion with their peers! This is an opportunity for many ages to get involved and spread some kindness!

6. Keep It Simple - Random Acts don't have to be monetary. It can be sharing your time or talents. It can be sharing a friendly wave with a passerby. It can be holding a door open or carrying groceries to a vehicle. Maybe you would like to pay it forward by purchasing a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line at Mornin’ Glory or leaving extra money in the machine at the laundry mat. Need more ideas? Let me know, as I have a plethora.

7. Character Counts - Kudos to the schools for instilling a positive learning environment for students while utilizing the Pillars of Character framework. These characteristics of Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship can be carried out not only at school, but also at home and the community. Think of ways you can show these pillars more often in your daily routines. This goes for both youth and adults.

8. Be awesome - If you have not heard of Kid President you are missing out. Looking for some inspiration? Be sure to follow him on Social Media. Better yet, follow him and then share is words of wisdom. Whether a video, a quote, or meme he knows how to brighten someone’s day. You can keep that positivity going by the click of a button. As Kid President would say, be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody!

9. Be Grateful - Take the time to say thank you, send a card, give a hug, and show appreciation for others. We live in a busy world and often take our daily lives and those in it for granted. Slow down and find a few minutes to share with those that help, support, educate, serve and protect, or even raise you, how much you truly appreciate them…and don’t forget to add the why! 10. Smile more - Smiles are contagious. Let's turn those frowns upside down, learn to agree to disagree, and just do our best to help brighten each others’ day a bit more! The world right now needs more smiles and laughter! Remember to choose kindness!


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