King George YR kickstarts kindness movement

East-end Brandon school’s Youth Revolution organization handed $5000 grant from Shaw Communications to help promote acts of compassion, generosity, courtesy and decency in their school and throughout the community.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber running back Andrew Harris’s visit to King George School on Dec. 7 had long-term implications for the facility’s young leaders.

King George School’s Youth Revolution (YR) organization is one of 10 school groups located across Canada to receive a $5000 grant from Shaw Communication’s Kindness Sticks Youth Grant program. Harris, one of the judges reviewing the grant applications, was in attendance on behalf of the company to present a cheque to King George YR members at a press conference held in the school’s library.

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Members of the school’s YR group are on a mission to spread kindness throughout the community. A video presented during the press conference outlined their project, which has members attempt to motivate others to be more considerate of the people around them.

Besides their in-school activities – such as a “12 Days of Kindness” initiative, a Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying campaign, Remembrance Day cards for military veterans and helping the City of Brandon plant trees – students have been going out of their way to aid members of the public in their everyday lives. They open doors for others, help elderly people across the street and do other small acts that may have big influences on their neighbor.

“You guys are doing so much more than random acts of kindness. You guys are creating a movement,” Harris said in his comments before the video was screened.

King George’s YR supervising teacher, Jackie Gudnason, said Brandon School Division Youth Revolution coordinator Angela Maguire-Holder knew that her school’s YR group paid particular attention to kindness initiatives and suggested they apply for the Shaw Kindness Sticks Youth Grant.

“I looked it over and though we should go for this, so we did,” Gudnason said. “She helped with the process some and I got a small group of students together to help me write (the application), put it together and share it with the whole group.”

King George School’s YR program is made up of about 50 students. After organizing several activities at the school, the students realized they should be promoting compassion, generosity, courtesy and decency all of the time.

“They kind of identified (kindness) as a need in our school in general. Rather than just doing that during Pink Day, we really need to focus on kindness all of the time and as leaders in the school, that could be something we could promote,” she said.

Besides helping to fund various YR projects – such as sponsoring a family this Christmas – the Shaw grant will be used to cover the recent purchase of a GoPro camera, an iPad tablet computer and some videography accessories.

“Our goal is to start capturing video footage of the things we do so we can post it online and get other people sharing it to start a positive social media movement of encouraging other people to spread kindness in their community,” said Gudnason. “The project isn’t just localized to our building, but rather we are encouraging others to do these sorts of things as well.”

Shaw’s Kindness Sticks Youth Grant program received submissions from more than 150 schools across Canada. A total of 10 projects were chosen to receive the $5000 grant based on how the submitted initiative contributes to building a positive school environment; provides opportunities for youth engagement and volunteering; impacts and reaches the community at large; alongside its uniqueness and creative aspects. Shaw Communications launched the Kindness Sticks Grant program this year.

“It’s been very well received throughout the country,” said Ian Phillips, manager of government and regulatory affairs for Shaw Communications in Winnipeg. “It’s great to see the joy and happiness these youth leaders bring to their community.”

Youth Revolution is a Brandon School Division initiative established in 2011 with the help of the Drug and Alcohol Coalition. The student-led school groups are open to students in Grades 5 to 12. The program was created to promote healthy lifestyle choices, develop leadership skills, create a culture of volunteerism and community involvement, reduce risk related behavior and reduce bullying, discrimination and social injustice.

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