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Share a smile for Violence Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness Week

Members of the Violence Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness program hand out royal blue bows. The bows and ribbons are a visual reminder that violence makes victims of us all and to encourage Random Acts of Kindness. Photo credit to varak.com

By Rachel Bell [1]

BELLEVILLE – March 5 to 11 marks the 22nd annual Violence Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness Week [2] in the Quinte area.

Chris MacDonald, co-chair of the program, started the week in memory of her son, who was a victim of a violent act.

“My son, Mark Fyke, was a victim of violence while vacationing in Daytona Beach, FL in March of 1996, and the purpose of the program is to promote positive energy to counteract the negative effects of violence in our society through acts of kindness,” she told QNet News. “And that’s in his memory.”

Fyke was with a friend when he was shot during an armed robbery after speaking to his mother on a public phone. A group of at least five youths approached them, police reports [3] say.

The week is about spreading kindness and awareness, MacDonald said. The hope is that the kindness doesn’t just exist for the week, but it exists 365 days a year.

“It’s as simple as a smile, holding a door. The saying goes if someone else isn’t wearing a smile. give them yours.”

MacDonald said your acts of kindness don’t have to have a monetary value. But buying someone a coffee will never fail to brighten up their day, she said.

“There’s many little things – be helpful, be kind, especially students in home and in school, and then there’s things we see happen during the week where people will buy somebody’s coffee at Tim Hortons, somebody that’s behind them in line.”

The program has seen a great expansion since it first started 22 years ago.

“In the beginning it was very localized. Our program was in Belleville and we offered it to three high schools. So since that point in time we certainly greatly expanded, and we’re now in 59 area elementary schools and 15 high schools, reaching a total of over 24-thousand students alone, and the greater Quinte communities.”

You can participate in Violence Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness week by joining in on events and awareness tactics.

“(Last night, at the Quinte Mall [4], the program) had opening ceremonies and student awards. The elementary students are involved in poster and colouring contests, and the high school students are involved in the high school kindness citizen award, and (last night) they all be took part in our opening ceremonies, receiving certificates and plaques to recognize their accomplishments.”

Today, kindness crews are going out in the greater Quinte community, bestowing acts of kindness. “Wednesday is Blue Ribbon Of Hope Day, and we’re asking citizens to wear or display blue ribbons as a symbol of their hope to end violence,” said MacDonald.

As the week rounds out on Saturday, the program will also hold a draw for Quinte’s kindness citizen. Nomination ballots are appearing in various local newspapers and online.

Mike Callaghan, deputy chief of the Belleville Police, says the force will be joining in on this annual awareness and random acts of Kindness Week.

“It’s about long-term relationship building with the community, our business partners, and our educational phystlities as well. So we need to ensure that when we’re out there, we’re building a sense of trust, mutual respect, and a sense of ownership for crime in our community,” he said. “And at the same time, making sure that not only this week, but every week we’re doing some type of random kindness for our community.”