Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
February 19, 2001
Try the power of kindness
Make Random Acts of Kindness Week last all year long
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Want to make the world a better place? Try being kind to others. Kindness doesn't cost anything and has a powerful ripple effect. If you treat others kindly, they will treat you the same.
This message comes from Debbie Riopel, one of the coordinators of Random Acts of Kindness Week in Canada.
Catholic students know that message and have been spreading kindness and goodwill throughout the city.
On Feb. 13, a group of 45 to 50 students from St. Theresa, St. Boniface, St. Mary and St. Monica Catholic schools boarded a bus and delivered baskets of chocolates, flowers, cards and well-wishes to Mayor Bill Smith, the Youth Emergency Shelter, Edmonton Catholic School's central office and St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital to kick off the seventh annual Random Acts of Kindness Week.
The week runs Feb. 12 to 18 but organizers hope its effects will last throughout the year.
"We hope that our message of spreading kindness and joy becomes contagious throughout the community of Edmonton and the surrounding areas," said Dan Cavanagh, assistant principal of St. Theresa elementary school.
In addition to schools, many parishes, clubs, hospitals and businesses throughout the city joined in the week.
The Kindness Movement kicked off the week in Edmonton with its first Say Yes 2 Kindness Conference Feb. 9. Speakers from across Western Canada and a businessman from China addressed the event, which targeted the business community and focused on the need for more kindness in the workplace. Some of the kindest people in the city were honoured at the conference with awards for kindness in the workplace, for social responsibility, for community and for youth.
Random Acts of Kindness Week endorses any kind of thing one can do during the week, from scraping the ice off someone else's car to shovelling a walk for a neighbour. Even giving up gossip for a week is considered an act of kindness.
And the theme is always the same: kindness to oneself, to each other and to the earth.
"We like to say kindness is in season all year round," said Riopel, a Catholic kindergarten teacher in St. Albert.
"We want everybody to think in their own lives about the value of kindness and how it connects us as human beings; it transcends race, culture, religion, politics.
"And we are saying it's simple, it costs nothing. It's how you and others treat each other, period. And then the ripple from that moves out."
Riopel and her sister Colleen Ring, a Grade 2 Catholic teacher, started the Kindness Movement in Edmonton following the 1994 stabbing death of Barb Danelesko in Millwoods.
Some of Ring's students who had known Danelesko sought to bring something positive out of the incident.
Random Acts of Kindness Week was chosen to inspire young people to be kind to others and to find kindness even in the midst of cruelty, Riopel said.
Awareness of the week has spread like wildfire, especially after the city proclaimed it officially in 1996.
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