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Westport Teens, Adults Aspire to Make Town Kinder

WESTPORT, Conn. – Holding the door open for someone else and other simple acts of kindness may become rampant in Westport as two youth groups kick off an initiative that aims to make the community a kinder place.

Created by the Westport Youth Commission and the Staples High School Kool to be Kind (K2BK) Club, the aptly named Westport Kindness Project seeks to engage as many community members as possible in recognizing and highlighting simple acts of kindness, said Elaine Daignault, Westport’s youth services coordinator.

“The goal is to improve the overall climate of our community by offering a platform to acknowledge those who take the time to be kind to others,” Daignault said in a statement announcing the project.

Daignault said discussions about a perceived lack of civility in everyday interactions sparked the idea for the project, first proposed by resident Andy Moss, an adult member of the Youth Commission.

This youth-led initiative coincides with the mission of the Kool to be Kind anti-bullying education program , founded by four Westport moms. This program is being piloted in third-grade classrooms at Long Lots and Coleytown Elementary Schools.

During the first phase of the Kindness Project, ideas and input from kids and adults will be sought through a townwide challenge of creating and submitting  art work, videos and photos that promote kindness and inspire others to spread kindness in Westport, said Moss.

Project student leaders Leigh Rubin, vice chairwoman of the Youth Commission, and Staples K2BK Club founders Jackson Yang and Michaela MacDonald — who helped make the project a reality — will serve as Kindness Ambassadors, along with other Youth Commission and K2BK Club members.

Kindness Ambassadors are “card-carrying adults and kids whose role is to acknowledge people engaged in kind acts by presenting them with a Kindness Card that thanks them for their kindness,” said Yang.

These Kindness Cards can be taken to participating businesses and redeemed for a discount or freebie, added MacDonald. “It’s similar to the pay it forward concept we teach in the Kool to be Kind Program with the third-graders — if you do something nice, it will spread to others and ultimately start a trend.”

Daignault said she hopes the project will inspire community members to become Kindness Ambassadors by capturing and sharing public acts of kindness by uploading photos, messages and personal stories on the Kindness Project website .

For more information about the project, contact Elaine Daignault at 203-341-1165, or elained@westportct.gov ; or visit the Westport Kindness Project online .

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