Gabriel’s Campaign of Kindness
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn
a life around.
Gabriel was an ordinary child. He had an ordinary child’s future aspirations. When he grew up he was not sure if he wanted to be a mechanic, an architect, or a ninja. He had all of the uncertainty and wonder of a child who was 9, almost 10. He had his life ahead of him to narrow his options. On December 24, 2004, Gabriel’s choices for the future were taken from him and from us as his parents. On Christmas Eve his life slipped away due to grievous head injuries that he had sustained in a car accident three days before. We would never see what he finally decided on for his future ambitions, because he no longer had a future. For almost 10 years we had watched this little boy change and grow and had seen a glimpse of the man that he might one day become. Now we were left with heartache and disillusionment. What was our role now in his life?
An idea slowly crept into our brains. We had always thought that Gabriel was destined for greatness, he could not achieve this on his own anymore, but we could help him. He could still inspire people to be their best. In his name we could recognize the greatness of others. Gabriel’s kindness and his compassion were two of his greatest character traits. They are traits that we as parents and as citizens value most. It was from this idea that the “Gabe Lindsay Spirit of Kindness Award” for Tweed Senior Public School.
On February 2, 2005 the first Gabe Lindsay Spirit of Kindness Award was given to a student at Tweed Hungerford Senior School. We decided that for the school it would be “Gabe” instead of “Gabriel” because this was an award for his peers and his peers knew him as Gabe, and the shortened name was what he adamantly preferred.
February 2, 2005 was the day that Gabe would have turned 10 years old. We felt that on this day, the day that 10 years ago we had celebrated the birth of our first child, our oldest son this would be the day that we should celebrate kindness. On the first award assembly the school watched a slide show of Gabe’s life. They discussed who he was and why this award was so important.
As the years have passed the assembly and spirit of kindness award have changed and evolved. This year’s celebration saw a new and touching evolution to the award. For 2009 there was “Gabe’s Spirit of Kindness Week”. It began on Friday, January 23 with an assembly. At this assembly the students were reminded about why award was so important and who Gabe was. The book “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed” was read to the school. This was the story of an ordinary child’s kind deed that went on to multiply and travel around the world until it became billions of kind deed and eventually came back full circle to Mary. The students exploded into applause mid-story. It was amazing to see their response.
The principal then challenged each class to commit one act of kindness as a class. And asked that each class select a reporter to report back to the whole school on Monday, February 2 what their class had decided upon. Each student was also given a small acrylic heart to keep in their pocket that would act as a reminder to think about what kind act they could commit.
The students met again on Monday, February 2 once again in the gym. Each class came forward and told the school what they had done as their class act of kindness.
One class made fruit trays and took one to each class. One class was asked to draw names from a hat and write a paragraph about what they liked about that classmate. This was a difficult task, because not everyone in the class liked the person whose name they pulled. Two of the students went up to the front of the gym and read their paragraph about a classmate. One class decided that they would read 100 books and that by doing that Scholastic Canada would then donate 100 books to children in need. One class saved the books that they had earned from their book orders and some of the parents sent in toys that they would send to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. One class’s Educational assistant’s husband had just had a heart attack, and the class donated $100.00 to help her with her gas costs to go back and forth to Kingston. The grade 7’s and 8’s decided that they would like to work as a group and organized a dodge ball tournament on Saturday, January 31. They asked each team to donated a $25.00 entry fee. Their goal was to raise $400.00 to send to Africa to help rehabilitate child soldiers. They raised $600.00 to send.
It is quite humbling to see what an inspiration Gabriel has become. To see that his life will continue to mean something important, even if he is not able to inspire others in the flesh, his spirit will live on and inspire goodness in others.