Category Archives: Campaigns

Dear Future Mom: It’s All Good

It started when a pregnant Italian woman reached out to her country’s national Down syndrome support organization. She had learned her baby would be born with the disorder, and didn’t know what that would mean for the future. “I’m scared,” she wrote. “What kind of life will my child have?”

In a spectacular case of show-don’t-tell, the support organization opted not to write back with pamphlets and statistics, and all the answers to all the FAQs. Instead, the group decided to create a video demonstration of how beautiful the child’s life could be.

“Dear Future Mom, don’t be afraid. Your child will be able to do many things,” explain a series of smiling, attractive, confident and capable men, women and children with Down syndrome. They proceed to give examples of all the things people with Down syndrome can do – go to school, get a job, travel – while standing in front of their bookshelves, laptops and hip cityscapes. And then, importantly, they note: “Your child can be happy. Just like I am. And you’ll be happy too.”

At the end of the video, they all hug their moms… who are all, without exception, smiling broadly. (Yes, okay, I got teary, so what?)

It’s a fabulous idea, so worthy of its 6.5 million views on YouTube to date.

And as I write about this, I’m contemplating the messages that I could have benefited from, if they’d been told to me while I was pregnant. “Dear Future Mom, don’t be scared,” the people in video would have said to me. “Yes, your child will throw tantrums. She will experience diaper malfunctions. She will suffer through ear infections and bullying.” They would go on to say: “When she’s a teenager, she’ll go to parties, and she’ll ride in cars driven by high school students. And you won’t ever fall sleep until she’s home.” And then the people in that video could have provided that same exact much-needed reassurance: “Dear Future Mom,” they would have said to me. “Your child will be happy. And you’ll be happy, too.”

No matter what our kids’ differences, all new moms could use a boost in confidence. How fabulous that this group of individuals has put so much effort into helping one expectant parent (and likely countless others, too) to feel uplifted.

Dear Future Mom: It won’t be long at all before your smile looks this huge…

Dear Future Mom: It won’t be long at all before your smile looks this huge…


…And one day, when your child is all grown up, you too will take selfies with this much joy in them…

…And one day, when your child is all grown up, you too will take selfies with this much joy in them…

Another Kindness Campaign (So Much More Fun Than Politics)

When I’m searching for goodness, I don’t find it requires a whole lot of effort. It’s not as challenging as, say, searching for a pot of gold, or a cure for cancer. There’s goodness on my street, on the bus, at the grocery store (if only I could say the same about the pot of gold!). In fact, any time I wanted, I could close my eyes, walk down the sidewalk and crash into goodness within about fifteen seconds – if I didn’t collide with a telephone pole first.

Be that as it may, “Search for Goodness” is the name of this country’s newest nationwide kindness campaign. The company behind Shreddies cereal just launched it this week to identify and promote Canada’s most heartwarming stories of goodness.

Last year, sisters Emma and Julia Mogus of Oakville, Ontario, captured Canadians’ hearts – and the top goodness award – with their book donations to isolated northern communities. The year before that, Greg Epp of Saskatoon was recognized for his dedicated work maintaining a skating rink in his neighbourhood.

Emma, Julia and Greg may be wonderful people. They probably are. But we all know they’re not the only Canadians making a difference in our communities.

Starting now, you can nominate one of the other ones.

The Search for Goodness campaign winner will get a chance to inspire the nation in a TV spot. (And there may be more surprises… a year’s supply of breakfast cereal? We don’t know, but stay tuned!)

Nominations are open until May 10. After that, you can go back to the website every day to vote for the story that made you bawl the most happy tears, or compelled you to hug your dog, or otherwise moved you in no uncertain terms.

Visit the campaign website here.

Most of all, I love serial acts of kindness (get it?).

Most of all, I love serial acts of kindness (get it?).

But Love Has Lots of Other Stuff Going for It

Love has no labels? Oh, I don’t know. I regularly employ a wide variety of labels for my loved ones, including “honey,” “sweetie-pie,” “cutie” and “are-you-on-your-iPhone-again?”

But in this adorable video from the non-profit Advertising Council in the U.S., they use a social experiment to make a strong point about love and labels. Sets of lovebirds, best friends and other bonded pairs are hidden behind a large panel. Onscreen, an X-ray animation shows their skeletons prancing around in delight, then leaning towards each other for big boney embraces.

When the pairs finally burst out from behind the screen for the big reveal, onlookers are apparently surprised that the couples aren’t who, or what, they expected. Some pairs are same-sex couples. Others have disabilities, are chronologically challenged, or are religiously disparate. Prominent slogans read: “Love has no gender,” “Love has no age,” and so on. Miranda Lambert sings. Life is glorious.

Inspired? You can visit the LoveHasNoLabels website to take a quick quiz about your own biases (or lack thereof), and pick up some handy tips for loving without labels.

For a more in-depth scrutiny of your subconscious, scoot over to Harvard University’s Project Implicit, where a series of exhaustive tests will uncover the insidious prejudices you never knew you had.

It’s all in the name of striving to become kinder, of course. Because it doesn’t matter what the question is… love is always the answer.

Make no bones about it, this is true love. (P.S. Please accept my apologies for the terrible pun I just subjected you to.)

Make no bones about it, this is true love. (P.S. Please accept my apologies for the terrible pun to which you’ve just been subjected.)

No Business Like Snow Business

When I first glanced at the name of Canadian Tire’s winter-themed kindness campaign, I honestly thought it was called “Shove It Forward.” This made a strange kind of sense to me: It could have been an emphatic message about assertively, maybe even quite forcefully, paying the good deed forward.

Of course, the campaign is really about shoveling snow, not shoving kindness down people’s throats.

Here in Canada, snow shoveling is one of our official winter sports (I think). We wear uniforms (usually wool toques, deeply treaded boots and 2010 Winter Olympics mittens, slightly pilly with wear). We use specialized equipment – preferably ergonomic shovels with easy-grip handles, although any old aluminum thing will do in a pinch. And with practice, we improve and refine our technique.

Snow shoveling is not a team sport per se. But you do often see interplay, in the form of jovial comments exchanged between two adjacent driveways (“What a winter!” “You said it!”). The language rarely gets out of hand, although you may hear one or two curses aimed at a particular groundhog of note.

There are no national championships, no trophies, no medals. Snow shovelers, no matter how accomplished, never get celebrated. They don’t stand on a podium or receive flower bouquets or get asked to appear in a Nike commercial. What they do is work diligently and thoroughly to clean the white stuff away from their driveways and walkways.

And then, because this is Canadian society we’re talking about, more often than not they go next door, and similarly clear out a path for their neighbour.

The “Shovel It Forward” campaign is all about warming people’s hearts when the weather is unbearably cold. Canadians who shovel driveways for others are encouraged to report the good deed on the campaign website, or talk about it on Twitter. Canadian Tire is even supplying a number of limited-edition shovels to do the job (true to the name, you’re supposed to leave the tool with the neighbour so they can help someone else and pass it on).

With or without this campaign, Canadians everywhere are constantly shoveling it forward. On a blizzardy day, there’s no sound I love more than the distinctive rumble of a generous neighbour’s snow blower in my driveway, coming to the rescue. And my daughter and I, in turn, often wield our shovels on other people’s properties.

(These days, we do skip helping the cranky elderly neighbour I reported on here. Funny story: The winter after that episode, when I offered to help him after yet another heavy snowfall, he growled, “I don’t need help! I told you that last year!” At least his memory’s not failing.)

The shovel is almost bigger than she is. But that’s not stopping her. (Photo courtesy of Andrew McCartney / Tribal Worldwide)

The shovel is almost bigger than she is. But that’s not stopping her. (Photo courtesy of Andrew McCartney / Tribal Worldwide)

Nerves of Steel

What’s your biggest, strongest, deep-rooted, visceral fear? What makes you tremble, or scream and run away, trampling any and all seniors and small children in your path? Maybe you’re afraid of hairy spiders, or great heights. Perhaps it’s the idea of singing in front of an audience, or taking a dip in a dark lake. (Please don’t tell me it’s an ice bucket.)

Would you face your fear to raise money for cancer? That’s the basis of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Fearless Challenge campaign. Celebrities and commoners alike are crowdfunding for cancer while promising to take on whatever makes them shake in their boots. Some of them will eat gross stuff. Others vow to make various radical grooming choices such as head-shaving and hair-dyeing. The bravest ones (yep, guess what my fear is) are skydiving, bungee jumping and, gulp, leaning over the edge of the CN Tower, apparently secured by nothing more than a filament that could surely snap in the breeze of a passing pigeon’s wingbeat.

I will pause here while my palpitations return to normal (thanks, vivid imagination). The fascinating thing about the Fearless Challenge campaign is that everyone’s particular constellations of fear are unique. One guy doing the challenge is so shy that, to him, high-fiving a stranger is terrifying. Another man is leery of confrontation. His idea of facing fear is fighting a sumo wrestler. One woman doing the challenge says she’s prepared to accept her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Um. We won’t even. We just won’t.

Whatever your fears are, you’ll probably find something on the campaign website that resonates with you. And maybe inspires you. In fact, perhaps yours will be the next face we see posted on the Fearless Challenge page, promising to play with snakes, or tuck into a fresh piece of uni sushi, or finally tell your boss what you really think of her. Hey, we won’t judge. It’s your journey.

The CN Tower EdgeWalk: My own Fearless Challenge is just looking at this picture. Oh my. (Photo copyright of Canada Lands Company CLC Ltd.)

The CN Tower EdgeWalk: My own Fearless Challenge is just looking at this picture. Oh my. (Photo copyright of Canada Lands Company CLC Ltd.)

Let Me Count the Ways

Ever wish you could add up all your good deeds?

It’s one of the vexations of day-to-day life, isn’t it? You perform so many thoughtful acts, you just can’t easily tally them all. If only – if only there was a way to keep track, you’re thinking.

There is now.

It’s called the 100 Good Deeds Bracelet. It’s made with 100 coloured glass beads and a braided cord that wraps around your wrist. Every time you do one good deed, you move a little rubber ring over by one bead. When you’ve passed 100 beads, you’ll hit a button stamped with “1GD.” Bingo! You’ve performed 100 good deeds, faster than you can say “what does the 1 in 1GD stand for?”

The concept was invented by a dad, and refined into a bracelet by a creative artist and activist. We at 50 Good Deeds (or perhaps I should call us 5GD) think it’s a fun idea – sort of like a tiny, wearable abacus of kindness. Happily, the bracelets are also rather blingy (but do come in boy colours, too).

Buying these bracelets and supporting the 1GD initiative means creating employment for vulnerable women. Ergo, as it’s pointed out on the website, making a purchase counts as your first good deed. And you’re off to a great start.

So pretty, I’d wear one just ’cause.

So pretty, I’d wear one just ’cause.

Knit Picks

We’re long-time fans of yarnbombing, simply because this kind of street art gives us a lift. Now, thanks to a few mysterious gangs who know how to wield a pair of knitting needles in wintry weather, yarnbombing is literally giving people a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Last week, someone wrapped more than a dozen hand-knitted scarves around the necks of historical statues in downtown Ottawa, along with notes that offered the free scarves to anyone who needs them to keep warm.

The temperatures in the Ottawa region dropped to minus 28 degrees Celsius last week. For you people in the southern U.S., that’s the official freezing temperature of… well, just about everything.

It’s not the only place where yarnbombers are fighting the cold. A “Chase the Chill” campaign has been going on in Winnipeg for several years now. And knitters in Easton, Pennsylvania, introduced the idea back in 2010.

So don’t be alarmed if you see that a bronze World War hero in your community is suddenly sporting a multi-hued muffler. Hopefully, it will make someone smile. And maybe even toasty-warm.

Yes, okay, I admit this scarf is store-bought. I can’t knit worth a darn… (get it?)

Yes, okay, I admit this scarf is store-bought. I can’t knit worth a darn… (get it?)