This has been a year filled with bad news. Teenagers are inundated by the negativity that swirls around them, but a group of local teens is choosing to focus on the positive, and they hope the community will join them.
On Oct. 2, Generation Alive launched Compassion 2020, a challenge to Spokane area residents to commit to 20 acts of intentional kindness in 20 days.
Founded in 2012 by former Major League Baseball pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, and his wife, Larisa, Generation Alive is a local nonprofit that empowers youth to help meet the needs of their community through acts of service.
“We formed the Compassion Council as we looked to the school year,” said Darin Duty, program director.
The group of 12 area middle and high school students were tasked with creating a positive response to the needs of the community. The result? Compassion 2020.
“It’s kind of like the ice bucket challenge – anyone can do it,” Duty said. “The kids thought it would go over well with their friends.”
The ice bucket challenge in 2014 raise awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and helped encourage donations to research for a cure. In the challenge, a bucket of ice was poured over a person’s head.
With Compassion 2020, the idea is simple. Participants can sign up on the Generation Alive website to commit 20 compassionate acts in 20 days. Challenge five others to complete Compassion 2020 with you by tagging them in your first post. Then look for ways big or small to show kindness and inspire others by posting your acts of compassion on social media using the hashtags provided.
Madi Ourada, a senior at Lakeside High School, is excited to be involved in the campaign.
“There’s a lot of negativity and stress right now, but making an effort to do something for someone else makes you feel so much better,” she said. “Posting it online can encourage people to help someone else.”
Small acts of kindness can make a big difference.
For example, Ourada bought a coffee for a friend who was having a rough day. Duty said he cleaned up a mess his son had made instead of making his son do it. And they say it’s important to be compassionate with yourself, too.
“I made myself a nice cup of Earl Grey tea while I did my schoolwork,” Ourada said.
Sadie Stevenson, a junior at Mt. Spokane High School, has been working on the Compassion 2020 website.
“It’s been really cool to see people sign up,” she said. “We’re looking to give people a sense of hope, peace and joy – a glimpse of happiness.”
She was on day six of the challenge, and said the hardest thing was remembering to take a photo to post on social media.
Five billboards throughout the city invite others to take the challenge. Duty said the campaign ends on Nov. 20, but participants can start at any time. They’re planning to have a big virtual party at the conclusion, with perhaps a surprise celebrity guest.
“We’re really hoping this takes off,” Ourada said. “More people need to realize small things can make a difference.”
“People are feeling hopeless and struggling,” he said. “We want to turn the negative around and provide a different lens to look at 2020.”
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