Mark Sager discusses importance of kindness during Do1Give Day event at West Van school

·4 min read

Whether it’s helping an elderly woman cross the street or giving a compliment to a stranger in the supermarket queue, small acts of kindness go a long way.

It is a lesson students from École Pauline Johnson learned on Thursday morning, as they gathered together with West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager to celebrate global kindness event Do1Give Day.

The brainchild of Jacqueline Way, founder of local North Shore charity 365Give, Do1Give Day is an initiative that challenges all West Vancouver schools to complete 365 small acts of giving in just one day, April 27.

As commendation for the students’ benevolent actions, 365Give will give each school a grant of $365 to donate to a local North Shore charity of their choosing.

“We teach kids not only that giving is good for the world, but why giving is good for you,” said Way on Thursday. “A big part of what we do is helping kids understand the happiness that giving brings to their own lives, how it increases well-being, gives meaning and decreases stress. It’s especially important for kids right now, with mental health being such a big issue,” she said.

As 50 Grade 3 students gathered around the outdoor tables under the sun on Thursday morning, Sager opened the event by reading to the crowd a short story on kindness. Way then delved into the importance of kind gestures and encouraged students to embark on their own, requesting they each turn to their neighbour and offer a compliment or two.

To round off the small event, each youngster was given a flower pot and a small sunflower seed, so they could grow their own act of kindness.

“For me to be here today and support this, it’s wonderful,” said Sager to the North Shore News. “We have such an amazing group here today and it’s so great to be able to see them focus on doing something good together, showing kindness to the planet and to one another.”

For Way, hosting the event at the school felt like a full circle moment. École Pauline Johnson had been the first to witness Do1Give Day when it ran its pilot over a decade ago, shortly after her philanthropic initiative began in 2010.

It had all come about from a small but simple idea. Looking for a route to teach her three-year-old son Nic how to be kind, compassionate, and happy, she had set them both the goal of completing one small intentional act of giving every day for 365 days. Over the course of that year, Way and Nic completed small selfless acts around their home in West Vancouver, like picking up garbage on their way to the park, volunteering time at the SPCA, and painting positive, uplifting messages on rocks for strangers to stumble upon at the beach.

What had been a personal parenting project evolved into a global movement when Way, after seeing the “transformative impact” it had had on her life, made the decision to share her initiative with others. A TEDx Talk she delivered to a large crowd at Stanley Park, ‘How To Be Happy Every Day: It Will Change The World’, has been viewed more than seven million times, and her school event has occurred every year since.

Why it is important to imbue the message onto kids so young, she said, is because it helps to retrain the brain into understanding the personal benefits of offering kindness early on. It brings happiness to give others happiness, she says.

“We always say that this is so simple a three year old can do it, and it can become a daily habit like brushing your teeth,” she said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire, you don’t have to be Oprah or the mayor or anybody like that. Anyone can take action in their lives, no matter how small, and feel as though they’re making an impact.”

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News