World Kindness Day is coming up again on November 13th. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement a coalition of national kindness non-governmental organization. It is observed in many countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, Nigeria and United Arab Emirates.
Each year, since 2013, KindnessYYJ volunteers take to the streets of downtown Victoria on November 13 to celebrate World Kindness Day.
In 2015, the Victoria group marked the day by handing out 8,000 flowers throughout the downtown core; near the museum and inner harbor; along Fort, Blanchard, Douglas, and Yates; and in Bastion Square. .
“For me it’s about bringing people together, regardless of how different we may be, by doing something kind for one another just because” says Angela Frattaroli, who organizes the event. “The flower represents the start of a chain reaction. While we might not see all the kind things people do for their friends, families, co-workers or strangers, we hope that we can build momentum to create a community of caring and kindness”.
Over the past years, recipients of the flowers shared that this had brightened a difficult day, some tearing up, others walking away with a bit more bounce in their step. Some recipients asked for more flowers to give out to people at a store they were going to, and one even took an extra one for his parole officer.
But the momentum of the flower goes further than just passing that token along. A woman and her elderly father were out for their monthly lunch at the pub when their server told them that a young couple at a nearby table, inspired by the day’s event, had paid their tab for them. Volunteers heard stories of people at coffee shops buying a coffee for the next person in line behind them.
Volunteers come from all walks of life, from retired bank managers to University of Victoria and Camosun students, and the grade 7 classes from Rock Heights Middle School.
“My students were all really excited to be a part of this event. They all came rushing in with their permission forms for the field trip on Friday” said Hilary Gibson, one of the grade 7 teachers at Rock Heights Middle School. “It was a great opportunity for them to give back to the community and to see how a random act of kindness can put a smile on someone’s face.”
The group promotes kindness every day of the year and has created the hashtag #KindnessYYJ so residents can share stories of random act of kindness.
The Canadian kindness movement is catching on; after hearing about last year’s KindnessYYJ event while at a yoga retreat this summer, Cara Haubrich approached Frattaroli to run a similar event in Canada’s Festival City. Friday marked KindnessYEG’s first World Kindness Day celebrations in Edmonton with nine volunteers and 2,000 flowers.