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August 12, 2014
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Hamilton: Kindness is cool

Kindness is cool.

That’s the message Brian Williams and his organization Think Kindness seeks to share.

Williams founded his nonprofit organization based essentially on a lesson he learned as a 4-year-old martial arts student, that “the best, most effective way of self-defense is treating others with kindness.” Through his life-long practice of that lesson, he has also learned the powerful potential a single person has in his or her own ability to be kind.

And now he’s sharing the word, around the world ... and right here in Nevada County.

With the sole mission of inspiring measurable random acts of kindness in schools and communities around the globe, Williams is helping to break down barriers for students, while also showing them how their own acts of kindness can actually make a difference in the lives of people their own age, even those living in Third World conditions.

Monday morning saw Williams speaking to a group of Pleasant Ridge School District teachers and administrators in South County, sharing word of what’s in store for their students as Williams and Think Kindness present an assembly to both inspire and challenge their communities to embrace kindness as a top priority.

Teachers will be tracking the kind acts they see occurring at school, emphasizing and applauding positive behavior as being, well, “cool,” in hopes of diminishing the kind of bullying behavior that plagues school campuses.

And through its KindnessCards.org program, shared by someone who offers a random act of kindness, one can actually track the ripple of a kind act online. The idea is to share the card with each act of kindness, encouraging folks to pay it forward and share their own experience with the random act that led to them receiving the card.

I first had the pleasure of meeting Williams in Truckee, where he was making a presentation to a suicide prevention task force. My attendance was essentially in the role of chauffeur — and as a proud papa — as our 10-year-old daughter had been invited to deliver her own speech on kindness by Kim Honeywell, suicide prevention coordinator for Nevada County. Kim was on hand for last spring’s Nevada County Speech Tournament, where she said kindly she was so moved by our daughter’s talk that she wanted her to make an encore effort with the suicide prevention task force. After our girl finished, we stuck around for Williams’ presentation and were moved by what Think Kindness has already achieved.

In his first trial of the Think Kindness school program in Reno, Alyce Taylor Elementary School students were challenged to document 5,000 acts of kindness in just two weeks.

“The aim wasn’t to just launch with a one-hour speech and be done,” the website states. “Brian wanted to create a lasting program that would generate quantifiable results, sparking action that would create habits. Kind habits.”

The result of an overwhelmingly positive reaction was the concept Williams now calls the ‘15 Days of Kindness’ challenge, which the South County community is about to experience. Think Kindness has raised thousands of dollars for charities around the country, collected more than 200,000 shoes for children around the world and carried out four global acts of kindness in Nyeri, Kenya.”

Our daughter told her teacher, Paul Stackhouse, of Williams and the Think Kindness organization. Meanwhile, Williams had posted a video he had shot of our girl’s own presentation that night, which he shared on his YouTube.com page. Eventually, Cottage Hill Elementary School Principal Karen Montero, and Pleasant Ridge Superintendent Rusty Clark, invited Williams and Think Kindness to Nevada County.

So on Monday morning, I watched again as a proud papa, as our daughter once again served as an opening act for Williams and Think Kindness in a presentation to the Pleasant Ridge teachers and administrators. As I listened, I found myself nodding in agreement as Williams spoke of the impact one act of kindness can make, especially when it leads to a collaborative effort.

“Working together,” Williams said, “can make big things happen.”

Get ready, Nevada County, something big is apparently on the way.

Brian Hamilton is editor at The Union. His column is published Wednesdays. Contact him at bhamilton@theunion.com or 530-477-4249.

Get ready, Nevada County, something big is apparently on the way.


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The Union Updated Aug 13, 2014 01:06AM Published Aug 14, 2014 04:00PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.