Episode 21: Kindness is Music Without Borders

Thirteen-year old Veronika Kolarska joins Anitha to talk about her passion for music. An incredibly talented musician, Veronika can play the piano, the violin, the recorder, the ukulele, the guitar, the flute and even musical spoons!

Veronika talks about how she loves using her musical abilities to help others—teaching music to kids and being a part of a special virtual orchestra that raised funds for Musicians Without Borders, a charity that uses music to build peace and social change. Veronika participated in this fundraiser through Explorer Hop, a program that teaches young people about money management, entrepreneurship and how to be global citizens.

Veronika even treats listeners by sharing some of her musical talents!

As a thank you to Veronika for sharing her story, Anitha donated to Canadian Feed The Children, Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. If you would like to learn more about this charity, please click on this link: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/canadian-feed-the-children/campaign/covid-19-urgent-appeal/?sm=1

To learn more about Explorer Hop, click here: https://explorerhop.com/

To learn more about author Erin Silver and the books she writes, click here: http://www.erinsilver.ca/

Episode 20: Kindness is Books For All

Thirteen-year old, Sofia Rathjen talks to Anitha about her dedication to bring diversity to her school’s library.

Like many visible minorities, Sofia has had to endure racist attitudes and micro-aggressions. But Sofia turned these difficult experiences into something positive.

With the help of a grant, she purchased books by BIPOC authors for her school library. She talks about the importance of representation in books.

This is an incredibly inspiring episode of a young woman turning negative personal experiences into something positive for all.

To follow Sofia’s journey, check out her Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/the_technicolour_bookshelf/

As a thank you to Sofia for sharing her story, Anitha donated to The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). To learn about FOLD, click on this link: https://thefoldcanada.org/

Episode 19: Kindness is Music and Lego

Fourteen-year old Annora Wu and her eleven-year old brother Andrew join Anitha to share their stories of kindness.

A talented musician, Annora talks about what it was like performing for residents of nursing homes and the joy she felt knowing she was making a positive difference in their lives.

Not to be outdone by his older sister, Andrew shares his amazing initiative of combining his love of Lego and animals to create Lego For Charity.

Andrew collects donated sets of Lego. He spends time sanitizing and sorting the pieces, and then puts together ‘new’ sets that he sells. The funds raised are donated to the SPCA.  

This is a wonderful episode for everyone who loves music, animals and of course stories of kindness.

To learn more about Lego For Charity, please click on this link: http://legoforcharity.com/

To learn more about Explore Hop, the organization that provided Annora with the skills to create the Lego For Charity website and promote its goals, click here: https://explorerhop.com/

As a thank you to Annora and Andrew for sharing their story, Anitha donated to the SPCA. For more information about all the wonderful work the SPCA does to help animals, please check out their website: https://spca.bc.ca/locations/vancouver/

Episode 18: Kindness Is Appreciating Your Own Backyard

Alex at ten years of age, taking photos for BBC Wildlife Magazine

Seventeen-year-old Alex White joins Anitha from Oxfordshire, United Kingdom to talk about his passion to inspire people to appreciate wildlife and nature in their own backyards.

When Alex was seven, he was given a camera, and fairly soon after he created a blog to share stories and photographs of wildlife and nature in his Local Patch. His blog has been declared as one of the top 50 wildlife blogs.

Alex also talks about his exciting stint as a journalist for a BBC wildlife magazine and publishing a book he wrote called Get Your Boots On. It’s all about ways to enjoy nature.

To learn more about Alex and his blog, click on this link: https://appletonwildlifediary.wordpress.com/

To check out Alex’s book, click on this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Get-Your-Boots-Alex-White/dp/1909455229/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=Get+Your+books+on&qid=1615061919&sr=8-8

As a thank you for sharing his story, Anitha donated to the Oxfordshire Badger Group Vaccination Project. To learn more about the wonderful work this group is doing to help badgers, click on this link: https://www.oxonbadgergroup.org.uk/

And to help them help badgers, click here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/oxfordshire-badger-group-vaccination-project

Episode 17: Kindness Is Never Saying Never

Andrew West suffered a stroke before he was born. His parents were told he may never walk, talk or feed himself. Andrew shares heartwarming stories of how he not only learned to walk, talk and feed himself, but played soccer, ran a 5K marathon and was part of his school band.

He credits his family, friends and his community for helping him succeed at his goals. The sixteen-year old also talks about how he has given back to his community and helped others.

Please join Anitha for this wonderful, feel good episode.

Anitha learned about Andrew from author Paul Coccia. Not only did Paul connect Anitha and Andrew, he generously sponsored the donation to United Way, as a thank you to Andrew for sharing his story.

To watch some inspiring videos of Andrew, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNdDTK7BYwkEZxFZXr2kCWX0RXmuFIEJa

To learn more about author Paul Coccia, click here: https://www.paulcoccia.com/

And to learn more about the United Way, please click here: https://www.unitedway.ca/

Episode 16: Kindness is Teaching Karate

Fifteen-year-old Jeffrey Wall has already accomplished so much—A black belt in Karate and inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

Jeffrey talks to Anitha about how he got into karate and what inspired him to share his passion for martial arts with residents of nursing homes. He teaches them the fun and importance of staying fit.

The global pandemic has brought hardship to many, including those in long-term care facilities. Jeffrey hopes his act of kindness helps alleviate some of that stress, as he continues to find innovative ways to connect with residents of nursing homes during these difficult times.

As a thank you to Jeffrey for sharing his story, Anitha donated to Polished Girlz, a non-profit organization that brings ‘sparkle to the lives of girls with special needs or frequent hospitalizations by bringing the trendiest nail art parties to them’

Polished Girlz was created by Jeffrey’s sister, Alanna. Clearly, kindness runs in this family.

To learn more about Polished Girlz, click here: https://polishedgirlz.org/

And to learn more about Jeffrey and watch some of his amazing fitness videos, click here: https://www.facebook.com/GoldenAgeKarate/

Episode 15: Kindness is Explorer Hop

On previous episodes, Anitha has interviewed several kids who have participated in a program called Explorer Hop. This innovative program brings together children of all ages and teaches them to become young entrepreneurs. In addition to learning about the ins and outs of creating a business, such as choosing a name, collaborating with others, and marketing, they are also taught about kindness and giving back. A portion (often 100%) of the funds earned through the business are donated to charities.

On this episode, Anitha talks to the co-creater of Explorer Hop, thirteen-year-old Mirabella Kolodkin. Mirabella shares the inspiration for the business she and her mother created, as well as some of the fun businesses she has been involved with.

As a thank you to Mirabella for sharing her story, Anitha donated to World Wildlife Fund Canada. To learn more about World Wildlife Fund, click here: https://wwf.ca/

To learn more about Explorer Hop, click here: https://explorerhop.com/

Episode 14: Kindness Is Creating Good Karma

Eleven-year-old Will and seventeen-year old Jada Finch share their inspiring story of turning personal heartache into helping animals. When Will was 7 and Jada was 12, the family adopted an adorable puppy they named Karma Rose. Sadly, within a few short weeks, Karma died from canine parvo-virus. Despite being devastated at the loss of his beloved puppy, Will decided to honor Karma on his 8th birthday. In lieu of gifts, he requested donations of money and pet supplies to donate to a local animal rescue. And soon after, Good Will Good Karma was born.

Will and Jada talk to Anitha about their amazing initiative to raise money and awareness to help animals. This podcast is a must for anyone who loves animals and wants to hear uplifting stories of how this incredible brother and sister team have dedicated their lives to helping animals.

As a thank you for sharing their story, Anitha donated to All Paws Cat Rescue. To learn more about this rescue, click here: http://allpawsrescue.weebly.com/

To learn more about Will, Jada and Good Will Good Karma, and all the kind and wonderful things they do, click here: https://www.facebook.com/goodwillgoodkarma/

Will and Jada spoke about several animal rescues they are involved with. To learn more about these rescues, click on the links below:

Northern Connection Rescue: https://www.facebook.com/northernpaws18/

Fetch & Releash Dog Rescue: https://www.fetchandreleash.ca/

Vandana Verma—Creating Kindness One Wish at a Time

Vandana Verma is the kind of teacher every parent wants for their child—enthusiastic, inspiring and full of kindness. She began her career in 2002 and has been teaching at Prince Of Wales Elementary School in Hamilton, Ontario, since 2003.

Vandana was born in India and immigrated to Canada when she was three years old. She moved from Toronto to Brantford and then finally to Hamilton when she was sixteen. Vandana says she was blessed with a wonderful family, great friends and credits some fantastic, caring teachers, who showed her the meaning and importance of kindness.

In 2013, Vandana started a program at her school called Just One Wish Kindness Program. The goal of the program was to show students that everyone has the power to make a positive difference.

The catalyst for this program came to Vandana in a dream, more specifically a poem she dreamt about. Fortunately, for Vandana when she woke up on the morning of January 2, 2013, the entire poem was still with her.

Filled with excitement, Vandana shared the poem and her plan of how it could instigate a movement of kindness within the school. Her Principal and Vice-Principal at the time completely supported the idea.

An assembly was arranged and Vandana introduced her idea to the school. During the next month, every student wrote a wish on a yellow-coloured paper star. These stars were posted all over the school.

Wishes like these:

Paul

Age: 19

Wish: I wish people would stop racism.

Jesse

Age: 9

Wish: I wish they stop all wars.

Kendra

Age: 8

Wish: I wish kids would be nice to people who are different.

Sheldon

Age: 6

Wish: I wish that the world was cleaner.

Frank

Age: 10

Wish: I wish people would stop cutting down trees so we can breathe better – they need to breathe too!

And Vandana’s wish:

Wish: I wish that people who had influence would think before they spoke or acted.

At the end of the month, they had another school-wide assembly. As a group, they decided which wishes they could make happen. These wishes were then transcribed onto blue-coloured paper stars.

Soon after the assembly, the climate of the school changed.  People were holding doors open, smiling at others, playing with others, and the school was a lot cleaner. Students would tell Vandana how another student was kind to them or how they helped another person. Vandana was thrilled to see how the students themselves were able see the change as well as discuss their efforts to make change happen. Visitors to the school would comment on how the school had a very positive, energized feeling.

For the next several years, the Just One Wish Kindness program continued. Vandana worked hard to think up different ways to carry out the program. From individual wishes, they moved to class wishes. They wished for things that would affect their school, the City of Hamilton, and of course, wishes for the entire world.

In addition to The Just One Wish Kindness program, the school is involved in other kindness initiatives. Prince of Wales Elementary celebrates International Pink Day, a day devoted to raising awareness about bullying. They also have a Mental Health Action Team, comprised of teachers and students.

In 2014, a student from the Mental Health Action Team asked why they only celebrate anti-bullying one day of the year. Vandana took this question to heart. She realized that the student had raised an excellent point and decided that people should live a PINK life every day.

PINK became the acronym for Positive Inspiration Noble Kind.

Vandana even created two super-heroes, Pink Power and Pink Passion. Once a week, students from the Mental Health Action Team would dress up as these superheroes. These wonderful pink-caped, pink-masked students would walk around the school and even go into classrooms, praising other students.

Unfortunately, both these initiatives, Just One Wish Kindness and PINK, were discontinued in 2019. But that didn’t stop Vandana from continuing to bring kindness into her school.

In March of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced her school, like many others around the world, into lockdown. Vandana took this time to create puppets based on her PINK initiative.

Over the next two months, she sewed 17 puppets by hand, including Pink Power and Pink Passion. Vandana created seven scripts:

Kindness is Strength

Kindness is Knowledge

Kindness is The Little Things

Kindness is Acceptance

Kindness is Respect

Kindness is Helping

Kindness is Standing up

With friends lending their voices, Vandana has recorded these shows. Each video is approximately six to seven minutes long.

The reception for these videos has been great. They are being used by schools other cities in Ontario, such as Sarnia and Ajax. Vandana has even been asked to do a workshop on kindness for educators in Muskoka.

Vandana’s determination to create a community of kindness and empathy continues to expand. Season two of her puppet show is going to be out in September 2021.  It will have nine episodes focusing on kindness to oneself, others and the environment.  Eventually, Vandana would like her puppet show to address issues such as privilege, identity, racism, etc. 

When asked if there was one thing she could change in the world, Vandana said, “I wish I could change all the negative feelings, words and actions into positive ones.”

To learn more about Vandana and her Just One Wish Kindness Program, check out her website: https://www.justonewishkindnessprogram.com/index.php/about-us/about-vandana-verma/

Vandana has shared the poem that started it all on her YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfGKK5GFMgs

Episode 13: Kindness Is Creating Card Games

In this episode, Anitha chats with Zachary Backman, another young entrepreneur from the Explorer Hop program. Zachary shares his fun story of creating a card game full of mythical creatures. A portion of the proceeds Zachary raised from the sale of his card game went to Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

As a thank you for sharing his story, Anitha donated to Food For Thought. To learn about this charity and all they do, click on this link: https://www.foodforthought.cafe/

To learn about Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, please click on this link: https://www.cafdn.org/

To learn more about Explorer Hop and the programs they offer, please check out their website: https://explorerhop.com/