Canadian International School students with gifts to be given away as part of the Pay it Forward initiative Image Credit: Supplied

ABU DHABI: Sixth grader Nathania Stephen has just accomplished a noble mission. She redeemed three Pay it Forward cards in acts of kindness.

“My first card went in helping a woman in my building who was struggling to carry a baby in one hand and a bag in the other. I put the second card into a bag with clothes and toiletries that I left for the person who picks up garbage. The third was when I shared my pockey money with a friend,” said the Indian student.

The Pay it Forward inititiative, which started as a book and then a movie, is now a global phen-omenon involving 80 countries.

The Pay it Forward initiative capitalises on the positive energy of selfless deeds and promotes helping total strangers.

Here in Abu Dhabi, the Canadian International School participated in the Pay It Forward Day on April 26 which started several years ago inspired by a book of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

“The concept is that each person does three random acts of kindness which ripple through the community as each individual receiving an act of kindness in turn will do three more acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. It is a great opportunity to allow the children to think about making someone a little happier by doing a small thoughtful deed,” said Counsellor Marie-Anne Glavan, who initiated the concept in the school.

Spreading positivity

For grade two teacher Jaemie McClusky, it was a win-win situation. “I had the pleasure of receiving a home-made rainbow from one of the students. It was doubly rewarding to see how happy it made her to pass off her creation,” she said.

It made the day a little brighter for lead PE teacher Zoe Hall too. “To receive a lovely gift from one of our younger students was a delight. All the students worked hard on their projects in order to spread the act of kindness to the staff at CIS and make them smile.”

“Pay It Forward concept meshes well with the philosophy of the school, in developing not only academically strong stud-ents but also focusing on them becoming socially and globally responsible citizens. We wanted the students to think about their family and community and be empowered with the possibility of creating positive change,” said Glavan.

“There are few things more satisfying than surprising someone with a random act of kindness. We are very proud of our stud-ents and school community for embracing this initiative,” said Larry Thaxter, superintendent of the school.

Mission kindness

The students participated in two ways: by being part of class activities and through their individual three random acts of kindness. Each class selected an idea that they wanted to do for either the school or community. The activities included:

-Donating books, clothes and toys for women’s shelter

-Clothing and hygiene gift boxes for the Al Reef workers whose housing burned down

-Toys and birthday boxes for the paediatric unit of a local hospital

-Essential items for two local animal shelters

-Afternoon tea and lunches for support staff at the school

-Lunch for the cleaners

-Messages of encouragement for students

-Cleaning the cafeteria, courtyard and windows while the cleaners were treated to lunch

-Cards created by the students for all teachers

-Popsicles for the younger children during recess

-Fruit juice distributed to pupils of lower grades