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/

Episode 12: Kindness Is Telling Jokes

This is such a fun episode. Six-year-old Callaghan McLaughlin talks about how he spent the summer of 2020.

Callaghan set up a table at the bottom of his driveway and shared jokes with those who passed by. He talks to Anitha about his favorite part of telling jokes and even shares a couple of jokes on the episode!

Callaghan is proof that everyone, regardless of how young or old they are, can bring joy and kindness to others.

Anitha learned about Callaghan from author Erin Silver’s book, What Kids Did: Stories of Kindness and Invention in the Time of COVID-19. To learn more about Erin and the books she writes, please visit her website: http://www.erinsilver.ca/

As a thank you for sharing his story and his jokes, Anitha donated to Wires Wildlife Rescue. To learn more about this wonderful charity, please click on this link: https://www.wires.org.au/

Episode 11: Kindness Is Creating Opportunities

Community service and helping others have always been a part of sixteen-year old, Arhan Chabbra’s life. In 2019 he started tutoring children in a village in India. Though he enjoyed helping these children, he wanted to do more for them. This spurred him to create APPVIDYA, followed by COVIDYA.

In this inspiring episode, Arhan shares details about these two projects, his goals as well as the rewards and challenges of his amazing initiatives.

To learn more about Arhan’s projects, please click on this link—https://www.projectcovidya.com/

As a thank you for sharing his story of kindness, Anitha donated to help purchase a computer tablet for disadvantaged children. This was done through CASP, a charity Arhan has partnered with. To learn more about CASP, please click on this link— https://www.caspindia.org/

Anitha is grateful to author Erin Silver for connecting her with Arhan. Anitha learned about Arhan from Erin’s book, What Kid Did: Stories of Kindness and Invention in the Time of COVID-19. To learn more about Erin and the books she writes, please visit her website: http://www.erinsilver.ca/

Episode 10: Kindness Is Reuniting A Family

Nineteen-year-old, Marcela Kuzma was at her grandmother’s restaurant in Brazil when she heard a Haitian employee talk about going to the airport to pick up his wife, whom he hadn’t seen for four years. Marcela soon discovered that this employee had also left behind a son, who was now five years old. Unfortunately, it was going to take several more years for the son to join his parents in Brazil.

Hearing this family’s plight inspired Marcela to raise funds to reunite them. Marcela shares a heart-warming story of a community coming together to bring the little boy back to his mother and father.

As a thank you for sharing her story of kindness, Anitha donated to LALA: Latin American Leadership Academy. To learn more about LALA, click here: https://www.latinamericanleadershipacademy.org/about

Episode 9: Kindness Is Cooking & Cards

Like many kids, when the pandemic struck, Spencer Burwell found himself stuck at home in much need of something fun to do. A friend introduced him to Explorer Hop. This innovative organization teaches kids about global financial literacy entrepreneurship. But it also teaches them about giving back to society and the importance of helping those in need.

Spencer shares his experience of creating businesses, raising money, and donating that money to CARE and The Canadian Mental Health Association. For more information on these charities, click on the links below:

https://care.ca

https://cmha.ca

In this episode we explore what success really means.

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

As a thank you for sharing his story of kindness, Anitha donated to the Parkdale Food Centre. To learn more about this charity, click here: https://parkdalefoodcentre.ca/

Episode 8: Kindness Is Art & Music

Ryan Elliot Drew shares his innovative idea to teach children about global issues such as climate change and habitat loss through art & music.

Combining his degrees in Music and Global Affairs, Ryan hopes to provide teachers with tools to inspire their students to appreciate the natural world through art.

Join Anitha Rao-Robinson as she and Ryan talk about this wonderful project.

To learn more about Ryan and his projects, click here: https://www.ryandrew.ca/

As a thank you for sharing his story of kindness, Anitha donated to the PEI Humane Society. For more information about this charity, click here: https://www.peihumanesociety.com/

Episode 7: Kindness Is Wishes For Orangutans

In 2007, the Starlight Children’s Foundation in Australia, granted then ten-year-old Daniel Clarke a wish. They were surprised by his response; he wanted to save the orangutans. Daniel and his brother William talk about their dedication to help one of our closest relatives—the orangutans.

In this incredibly moving episode, Daniel and William, now 24 and 22, respectively, share their story of helping save endangered orangutans from extinction. They even describe the first time they saw an orangutan in the wild.

If you love animals, this episode is for you!

As a thank you for sharing their story of kindness, Anitha donated to The Orangutan Project. This charity was created by Leif Cocks, a world-renowned orangutan expert.

To learn more about Daniel and William and their work to save orangutans, click here: https://tearsinthejungle.com/

To learn more about The Orangutan Project, click here: https://www.orangutan.org.au/

This episode was produced by Stephen Hurley of VoicEd Radio.

Episode 6: Kindness Is Driving For Dogs

In 2012, Christian Marcello and his family adopted a dog from an animal shelter. Little did Christian know that adopting Rocky would not only change the dog’s life, but his as well.

Christian shares what it was like seeing all those dogs in the shelter, learning that not all dogs find their happily ever after, and how that inspired him to create a business dedicated to helping dogs find a loving home.

If you love dogs, you’ll definitely want to hear Christian’s story of kindness.

As a thank you for sharing his story of kindness, Anitha donated to Team Dog Rescue on behalf of Christian. This is the rescue where Christian and his family adopted their second dog, Holly.

For more information about Team Plover and how you can help, please click here: https://teamplover.com/

For more information about Team Dog Rescue and how you can help, please click here: https://teamdogrescue.ca/

This episode was produced by Stephen Hurley of VoicEd Radio.