One good turn, as they say, deserves another. And if 100,000 scouts have their way, Canadians will soon be on a random-act-of-kindness roll from coast to coast.
Scouts Canada has designated April 13-21 Good Turn Week. During that time, people of all ages are urged to join the youths and their leaders in spreading friendliness and compassion throughout the land.
"Every scout lives by the principle to always help others. With Good Turn Week, we simply ask Canadians to perform one act of kindness to help create a happier society," the group said in a press release.
The "good turn" could be something as simple as shovelling your neighbour's walk, helping an elderly neighbour with grocery shopping or paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line.
During the campaign, the fourth annual, scouts across the country will be handing out a Good Turn bracelet for each act of kindness they perform and asking the recipient to pay it forward, creating a "chain of goodwill." Anyone who does a good deed, whether they receive a bracelet or not, is encouraged to share the details with Scouts Canada by texting "Good Turn" at 51051, or submitting them to scouts.ca/goodturn.
Free Press readers already make mention of good deeds performed in the newspaper's regular feature, Random Acts of Kindness. Brief recollections of Good Samaritans who've helped others out of a jam are published every week in the paper on online. Winnipeg coffee shop customers have also brewed up pay it forward schemes, especially around the holidays.
As the Scouts Canada release points out, there is good karma in kindness. "Doing a Good Turn not only makes someone else's day, but the individual also reaps the reward through the gratifying feelings it brings."
"Research seems to back up the claim. A 2011 York University study found that people who performed small acts of kindness for five to 15 minutes every day for a week increased both their happiness and self-esteem.
If anyone knows the transformative power of kindness and compassion it's Toronto-based humanitarian activist and former boy scout, Craig Kielburger.
The co-founder of the Free the Children international charity and of the We Day movement, credits Scouts Canada for instilling the values and sense of community that laid the foundation for his career as a social entrepreneur.
"It was probably the single most influential part of my childhood experience before Free the Children," the 30-year-old Kielburger, who spent nine years in Scouts Canada and, until recently, also served on its board, says during a phone interview.
It was in the Scouts where he first volunteered in a senior citizens residence, did a park cleanup and otherwise learned about making a difference in the lives of other people, he says.
"We live in an age where, if you want to raise an academically minded child, you send them to a good school. Or for sports, you send them to Little League. But if you want to raise a young person who is aware of volunteering and of the world around them, and conscious of making an impact, well, that's what Scouts was for me," says Kielburger, who was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2008.