University of Victoria students Alyssa Weninger

University of Victoria students Alyssa Weninger

Class project spurs wave of kindness

How comfortable would you be hugging 10 complete strangers, or giving one of them a piggyback ride?

How comfortable would you be hugging 10 complete strangers, or giving one of them a piggyback ride? Would the kindness you dole out come from a genuine place in your heart?

This weekend’s Victoria Kindness Challenge, an event organized by a trio of University of Victoria students, aims to spread sincere kindheartedness through good deeds done for strangers.

“We all like the idea of trying to make Victoria a more compassionate and kinder place,” said Joe Thomas, 21, a third-year recreation and health education student.

He and fellow students Lauren Bernardi, 20, and Alyssa Weninger, 26, are taking John Meldrum’s management in recreation and health course this semester.

“In September (Meldrum) encouraged us to take initiatives on some of the ideas we want to do,” Thomas said. “He gives each of the groups $20 and we use that to fund our initial effort. He wants to see how far we can take (our ideas).”

This is the fifth year Meldrum has given student groups $20 as start-up capital for the class’s major project.

“It used to be a class that we had them do a business plan … but it was kind of artificial. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I give them some meaning, take some money out of my wallet and show them there’s a sense of commitment?” Meldrum said. “We teach the major principles of the course through the project. The $20 idea is the second purpose, to see how they can make change without a ton of resources.”

In the first four years of the project, Meldrum says his students have raised nearly $12,000 through a variety of initiatives.

“We’ve had students raise money to send kids through KidSport, we’ve had people do a seminar for young girls on body awareness, we’ve had people raise money to send bikes to Africa, we’ve had people teach kids how to make healthy food on a limited budget,” the instructor says. “It’s been kind of all over the place, but the goal is to make your community a healthier place. And through the class we have them define community, and have them define health.”

Thomas says he and his group-mates hope to spark a wave of kindness through their public challenge on Sunday.

Teams of all ages are invited to meet at the legislature fountain at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 25 for registration. The three-hour Kindness Challenge begins at 11 a.m., and teams of two to five people will be given a list of 100 kind tasks, ranging in point values. Tasks could be offering hugs, kind words, helping people cross the street or giving someone a self-made piece of art.

“There’s also some really silly (tasks), worth 100 points that hopefully people won’t be able to do. But if they can …,” Thomas said, without revealing details of what those tasks could be.

Teams will be required to document their good deeds – scavenger hunt-style – using a smartphone or camera, and the top point-earning teams win prizes. Teams that donate three or more canned goods at registration begin the challenge win five bonus points.

Meldrum said he’s blown away by the innovative ideas he’s seen his students come up with, especially given how much good they’ve done in the community.

“I thought at best somebody would raise a hundred bucks, which would be great, but they continue to astound me,” he said. “They’re seeing that they can take this entrepreneurial approach, even with limited resources, and make this world a better place.”

For more info on the Victoria Kindness Challenge, visit victoriakindnesschallenge.com.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Organizers say some 100 vehicles rallied against plans by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Victoria to sell 40 acres of its 98-acre property in Metchosin. (Barb Sawatsky/Submitted)
Proposed subdivision of green space in Metchosin draws 100 vehicles in protest

Plans for land owned by Boys Girls Club of Greater Victoria affects entire region, say residents

BC Housing ensures that by March 31, shelter will be available to all people living outside. (Black Press Media file photo)
All unhoused Victoria residents will be offered shelter by March 31, says BC Housing

BC Housing working to secure shelter locations in coming weeks

Robert Schram, here seen in January 2016, died Saturday, according to a friend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

Saanich Coun. Susan Brice and Mayor Fred Haynes are calling on the province to develop new solutions for emergency response to mental health crises with the consideration of a potential new 911 category. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich mayor, councillor call for new solutions to mental health emergencies

Shifting response from police to trained mental health team the best option, mayor says

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic, operated by Island Health, has opened at the University of Victoria’s McKinnon Gym. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at University of Victoria

Clinic is staffed and operated by Island Health

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

(Black Press file photo)
Homicide team to look into death of 11-year-old Agassiz boy

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

A publicly accessible defibrillator as well as naloxone and first aid kits are included in a stand that has been installed at Crescent Beach. It is one of two planned for the South Surrey neighbourhood as St. John Ambulance works to install 1,000 of the life-saving devices around the province. (Contributed photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

Sponsors sought for stands that cost about $8,000 to equip and install

Left: Oakland County Jail. Right: Canuck Todd Bertuzzi on November 2, 2005. (CP/Chuck Stoody)
Former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi arrested for suspected DUI: report

The Canadian winger had a complicated history in the NHL

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

Most Read