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'Be Kind' school initiative urged by grieving father

Drew Stevens spoke to Century School Monday night, imploring the audience to perform random acts of kindness. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

A "Be Kind" initiative is being launched in Park Rapids Area Schools.

Drew Stevens, a father whose son, Josh, tragically lost his life in an accident at age 13, flew in from Las Vegas to speak with students and the community this week.

Monday night he reached out to the community at Century School by telling his story.

Allison Spahn, first grade teacher at Century, and her sister, Stephanie Carlson, school board and PTA member, brought Drew to Park Rapids. Allison used to teach in Las Vegas and the "Be Kind" program originated in Nevada schools.

"I met Drew last year and I knew I wanted to be a part of this movement," Allison said Monday night as she introduced him.

Park Rapids is the first town in Minnesota to bring the "Be Kind" program to its schools.

The Josh Stevens Foundation was created to honor his life and the example he set for us all to follow.

Josh was always doing something kind for someone else, Drew said. He recalled one time when his son held the door open for people at a mall for 10 to 15 minutes and was thrilled later when two people told him it made their day.

When Josh was kind to others, seeing how it made them feel, it inspired him to pour out more kindness. It was a necessity to him. And when a person would say "thank you" to him, it filled him so full, that it would make his day.

This is how and why the Josh Stevens Foundation and the kindness card were created. It's a simple way to "catch" a child and let them know that their genuine kindness can change the world. The hope is that children being "caught" will be inspired to be more kind, more often.

The Josh Stevens Foundation has partnered with youth sports and schools. The hope is to spread awareness about the Josh Stevens Foundation and its goal of recognizing and rewarding a child's heartfelt kind act. The foundation started with Paseo Verde Little League because this was where Josh played baseball for six years. The program has been expanded to schools and other organizations to spread the message of kindness.

The foundation has created the "You've Been Caught Being Kind" trifold gift cards. These cards are presented to a child "caught" being kind by a member of the "Kindness Patrol."

The purpose of the Josh Stevens Foundation and the tri-fold card is to remind children that there is a whole wide world in need of more acts of kindness. The foundation wants children to know that people really do appreciate their kind actions, even though most times they go unnoticed.

Park Rapids will be using the cards and rewarding students for their acts of kindness with wrist bands and t-shirts.

For more information on the Josh Stevens Foundation go to www.joshstevens

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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