Harrison looks to 'pay it forward' with kindness initiative
Submitted photos from The Kindness Revolution
It's a sad reality that today's world is filled with a ton of negativity. The 24-hour news networks are airing non-stop angry, emotional stories. A quick check of your social media sites is going to bring up many volatile political feeds on both sides of the aisle.
From sports to politics to entertainment, it looks as if there is a controversy around every corner. You comment online and arguments break out. It is a tense time and people all over are on edge. There is a sense that we are coming apart at the seams.
However, that isn’t the whole truth; there is much more to our community. There is actually quite a lot of beauty and goodness in this world if we know where to look for it and if we actually want to seek it. In fact, one of our citizens here in Lenoir County wants to do something about it.
Meet Heith Harrison. He grew up in La Grange but moved to Kinston last year. He is an insurance agent with Farm Bureau for the last two years and is married with two kids.
With all the negativity and anger out there, Harrison wanted to do something different -- he wanted to inspire the community to rally around itself and promote kindness and decency, something that doesn’t get a lot of headlines these days.
“Everything you see on the news or social media is negative. It’s just all hostile and angry,” Harrison said. “A colleague of mine told me about this partnership they are doing with an organization called Kindness Revolution. His organization is partnering with it. I knew it was something we could do and needed to do.”
The Kindness Revolution started in 2007 as a nonprofit organization based out of Tennessee. It was founded by Ed Horrell, a consumer advocate. His organization stresses to businesses and schools the importance of respectful and engaging attitudes and behaviors.
The Kindness Revolution works like this: if you see someone doing something nice or performing an random act of kindness, you hand them a bracelet and acknowledge the deed they did. Just like the movie “Pay It Forward”, you are expected to give that bracelet on when you see someone doing an act of kindness. The hope is that it will spread.
“It’s kind of like a chain reaction," Harrison explained. "How easy it would be to share these bracelets with churches, schools, etc. I can give someone a bracelet for being kind and then they can share it was someone else for doing a kind act or a good deed."
Harrison hopes to start this program with schools in Lenoir County. As any teacher can tell you, some of the most troublesome kids are looking for any kind of attention. When given praise or credit for good conduct, many times these kids can “turn it around” and want to be rewarded because of the extrinsic rewards given to them for doing the right thing.
“What I’d like to do is to start with the schools and give them to teachers," Harrison said. "I’d love to see teachers give the bracelets to the kids in front of their class to acknowledge the student’s kind act. And we can do a ‘Kind Student of the Month’ throughout the county. Each school can nominate one boy and one girl at each grade level who could be honored for what they are doing right."
He continued, “My wife, Brittany teaches at Frink Middle School. Teachers are always looking for things like this to do in their classroom. This is another tool that they can have to promote better behavior and help minimize bullying. Plus, the kids love it because they get recognized for what they are doing.”
This doesn’t have to be just limited to the classrooms or day cares; Harrison envisions this idea spreading throughout the community.
“I would also want to do a 'kind business of the month.' A restaurant, a service center, doctors office," Harrison said. "The opportunities are endless. If there is a business or organization or church doing great things in the community, we can and should recognize it and promote them.”
If you, your school, your church or your organization is interested in being a part of this initiative, contact Harrison at 252-560-4620 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.