Written by: Nick Rokicki
The columns I’ve read on this blog in recent weeks could make any one of us lose hope. Hope in humanity. Hope in our leaders. Hope in ourselves. Teenage suicide. Children with rare genetic diseases being bullied. Elected officials turning a deaf ear. Communities in denial.
Yet there is a need to hear about these things… because if we don’t know about it, how do we fix it? One thing became crystal clear yesterday: we can’t rely on laws, policies, procedures. Perhaps, more specifically, we can’t depend on school officials to actually enforce existing policies.
So, what to do? The change in society is going to begin at home— yours and mine. And you can start today.
As I’ve written here before, my favorite word is encourage. Taken literally, it means to instill someone with courage. More simply, it means to give someone confidence, support or hope.
My first book for children, Pete the Popcorn, had a subtle theme stressing encouragement. Pete the Popcorn isn’t having a great day, so his friend Patty offers him some encouraging words. When visiting schools and reading the story, I talk to children about P.E.T.E.: Pursuing Excellence Through Encouragement.
It’s my philosophy that we flip “anti-bullying” on its head. Instead, let’s talk about “pro-encouragement.” It’s simple, really. Every day, say something nice to someone, anyone! We might not know what other human beings are going through. But if they’re having a rough day, that kind word will make all the difference in the world.
Locally, Ottawa Hills Elementary School believed so much in this positive message that Pete the Popcorn was chosen as book of the year for 2012-2013. Every student was challenged to become excellent by offering encouragement to others. This wave of energy was passed student-by-student, day-by-day, throughout the school year.
Children learn from our behavior. So let us lead by example. I’m issuing the 100 day, 100 people ENCOURAGE CHALLENGE. For 100 days, you will be tasked with simply lifting someone else up. Like a co-worker’s outfit? Tell them. Inspired by a pastor’s sermon? Let them know. Already been though what someone else is experiencing? Take a moment, listen to their story… and then tell yours.
Encouragement is a chain. Once you take a moment to boost someone else, you better believe that they’re likely to do the same. Imagine how effective this chain could be in schools. After all, the most powerful form of encouragement is a child encouraging another child.
Here’s how you participate: on Facebook or Twitter, use #Encourage100. Or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me your story— what did you do to encourage someone yesterday, today, tomorrow? I will share your stories and mine for the next 100 days.
Imagine this… 100 of you decide to take the challenge. In 100 days, you’ll boost confidence, support or give hope to 10,000 people. It’s like one of those annoying scratch-off-lottery chain letters, but you get nothing back in return except a damn good feeling in your heart. And, if this works, a better community.