Extreme Kindness

Extreme Kindness

One Hug at a time

By Erin Haluschak – Comox Valley Record
Published: November 25, 2010 6:00 PM
Updated: November 25, 2010 6:53 PM

Brad Stokes is sure that he can change the world with a hug.

And if it sounds like a big challenge, he is not only willing to prove it to one person, but to thousands.

Stokes — one member of the four-person Kindness Crew — demonstrated his passion for his goal to students Wednesday morning at Queneesh Elementary School as part of the Extreme Kindness Crew touring 11 Comox Valley schools this week.

Stokes is in the middle of attempting to speak to 10,000 students prior to Christmas about the value of kindness in hopes to inspire students to create their own acts of kindness towards each other and their communities.

“Random acts of extreme kindness is something you like to do while making a positive impact on the community,” he said.

The Kindness Crew also includes Val Litwin, Erik Hanson and Chris Bratseth; four friends who, motivated by the 9/11 attacks, travel the world promoting kindness “to make the community a better place, and in turn, it makes you happier and healthier,” noted Stokes.

To prove his point, Stokes enlisted the help of students to run the Gauntlet of Goodwill, a speedy checkpoint-like race where students and teachers alike gave students a compliment, a high-five and a hug.

In 2002, Stokes and his crew travelled to downtown Toronto to hold a kindness protest, where the Kindness Crew offered hugs and held signs in a busy downtown street corner, which read ‘honk for kindness.’

They also visited New York City and worked with mayor Michael Bloomberg’s volunteer centre.

As a result of their work in the city, the group appeared on Good Morning America, promoting the idea to create crews in communities across the United States.

“Don’t ever discount what seems like a small idea … believe in your good ideas,” said Stokes.

He added the sense of urgency to take their kindness idea and spread it around the world came from his mom’s approach to dealing with terminal ovarian cancer.

“The weaker she got — the more acts of kindness she did. She told me not to wait to make the world a better place. She told me acts of kindness are the one thing you remember when you’re that close to death,” Stokes noted.

For more information on the Kindness Crew, visit www.extremekindness.com.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Brad Stokes (right) demonstrates his world’s best hugger form by laying one on Kyle Timms. Photo by Erin HaluschakNewS.8.20101125184357.Kindness_20101126.jpg

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