Monday, 4 October 2010


I am a grandmother, living in Canada.
I have written a few books and have had a nice amount of my stories in the books of others.
That is a truly uplifting experience!
Thought you might enjoy a true story about the art of giving.

Hoping to help children understand bullying, a Canadian school
brought in an education program on that topic.

Following this, one parent noticed her young daughter was having more difficulties at the school. When she wouldn’t play with a friend the little girl was teased and called ”bully”. The mother identified the problem. Many of the school children were possibly too immature for the bully program and had misunderstood the concept. Wishing to help her own daughter and likely many others, the mother, set about to develop 
an amazing new program which might possibly alleviate both the problems.

This is the story then about that creative new program and how with a lot of imagination and determination,
one woman caused 
Children can be keen and mean at gossip. When they are young it is referred to as being a tattle tale. Sometimes embellishment is  even added for the “wow” affect. It gains them attention. They are often too young to make the distinction between what is important to report and what is socially unacceptable. Other children gain the spotlight when they choose bullying. 
Is it possible to alter these actions in young school children? How might one deter the focus from bullying and that of reporting inconsequential tales of fault finding?

Laurie Braun, a concerned and caring mother knew, that given the chance, she could redirect the energies of young school students away from the negative by helping them embrace a positive and new concept. With bold determination, and a lot of imagination this young woman designed a positive action program, earned the confidence of the administrator for the school and implemented the program.

Laurie soon became the igniting force behind an avalanche of kindness in one Canadian elementary school. She set about to inspire and motivate hundreds of children to file reports on one another for their kind gestures no matter how small the deed.

“The interesting thing about it all,” says Laurie, “is that it truly was the little things that they all began noticing.” She picked up two reports at random and read them. 
“When I was by myself, Jeffry sat on the swing with me.” “I slipped and cut myself on the ice and Sara sat with me.” These and other similar reports handed in by the school children eventually soared from the hundreds, well over the thousand mark.

The program itself was simplistic yet insured students would soon be focusing on positive actions and words. The goal for the students was to file reports on one another. The report would include kind deeds they had witnessed or had been the recipient of. Or they could report on kindness shown through thoughtful words.

Laurie’s role was to inspire everyone, first the teachers. They could assist with explanations to students on how the new program worked. Providing inspiration for the students called for Ms. Braun’s artistic abilities. The program design indicated students would soon be focusing on positive actions and words.

“The children revealed a lot about what their concerns are during these early school years. I saw a noticeable pattern regarding the reports, “ says Laurie. “They (the children) spoke a lot about their appreciation for being included, their appreciation for having someone to play with and their relief and appreciation when another student comforted them after a spill.”

The response to the program was magnificent and participation of the students increased weekly. Subsequently the load of volunteer work for this one parent, increased in leaps and bounds. Students had filed sixty reports of kindness, in one week alone. “It became a challenge,” said Laurie, “to fit everything on the bulletin board and to keep it sparkling and colorful. I think the kids loved the glitter of the displays the most!” Ms. Braun devoted well over a hundred and seventy hours working both at home and at the school to prepare materials and build weekly displays to keep the children challenged.

The elementary school took on a conspicuous change. Kids were sharing lunches and opening doors for one another. Kindness thrived! Even the crossing guard at the cross walk was reported for her acts of kindness. “The wonderful thing about this, ” commented Laurie,  “was that the report was put in by a youngster who was so shy he had never even spoken to the crossing guard, although the guard had spoken words of encouragement to this one particular youngster, many times. “ A child who held the reputation of being arrogant was suddenly helping another clean out her desk. One lonely child reported on a classmate: ”
When I needed a friend to play with, she was there.”
The reports went up weekly but not just as ordinary reports, Over the weekend, the innovative and artistically inclined Laurie, chose a theme so that every single report was set on special paper, highlighted with sparkling glitter. One week she placed the names of the youngsters on lightning bolts and another week every report was done on teddy bears and yet another time on little T-shirts, all hanging on a clothesline.

The bulletin board itself was always eye-catching and crowds gathered so that soon parents, teachers and other staff were also gathering around to take in the theme and designs for the new week.

When the school year drew to a close, Laurie took each and every “good deed” report filled in by the students and teachers and attached them to one long continuous roll of paper. Once posted, this was to be the final reminder to all, that little things do make a difference. She chose a time when only teachers were at the school and she and her young daughter literally wrapped the school walls with over a thousand kindness reports.

What was it that motivated this woman? She says “it all came about because I could see some of the younger children in the elementary school were worrying over bullying. Others concentrated too much energy on reporting the wrong choices of others. I was looking for something to counteract this when I came up with the idea of reporting one another on acts of kindness. I sincerely believed and still do that an act of kindness should receive ten times the attention given to a deed that came about because of wrong choices. I wanted my program to encourage both students and adults to focus on the positive, on what is appreciated, not what is annoying or hurtful
The program also had some unforeseen side benefits. The reports often indicated when problems were at hand and Ms. Braun was able to alert the school authorities. “I noticed one week that many of the reports spoke of various individuals being helped up after falling on the ice.” I contacted the school and they were able to alleviate the ice problem.”

On the final day for that school year Laurie asked the principal if the children could leave their classrooms and walk about to view this huge accumulated list of their good deeds and thoughtfulness. The students were told that any reports which featured their name could be taken home as souvenirs. Laurie watched as the excited students gathered around the reports, first reading them, then commenting and remembering and finally reaching to retrieve the reports to take them home as mementos.

"I watched those youngsters that day and felt so proud of their accomplishments. I thought
, Look at the huge quantity of kindness you all gave to one another. You all noticed even the smallest of gestures and you have made such a difference in the lives of one another.” Choked with emotion, Laurie felt the tears and an overwhelming warmth of pleasure for the success of her quest.

Is it possible to alter the actions of school children, to take the focus from bullying and fault-finding? One woman proved that “yes” anything is possible when you follow your instincts and your dreams.

Ellie Braun-Haley
Post Script: Ellie Braun-Haley wrote this story about her middle child. She says, “I’ve always been amazed at Laurie, at her resilience and her determination. I’m proud of her for her willingness to share with others and for the care she demonstrates toward family, friends and even strangers.” She has raised thousands of dollars for the Alberta Cancer Foundation over the past six years. She arranged clothing and furniture for a family who had little. She has a heart that was made for giving!

Braun-Haley lives in Central Alberta.
 She has a number of stories and books published and is the author of “A Little Door A Little Light” a book she was challenged to write following the death of her 17 year old son. Ellie presents talks on the material from the book, hoping to help ease the grief and pain of others following a death.She may be contacted at

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Fashion Post

I was at one of my sample units preparing some pieces from my SS10 collection working alongside Chris a good old East End boy who had been a tailor man and boy. We were working on a skirt with an oversized waistband and it just didn't seem to be looking right but I wasn't quite sure why. A lady who was at a training course at the unit was observing us. She looked very carefully at the skirt and in a matter of fact way suggested placing an extra button on the waistband. This was genius and made the piece work. She didn't have to do that and I appreciate her help. Fashion is a business that I am new to and I am realising that help can come from the most unexpected of places. I am humbled.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Fashion Kindness from Tim Soar

Tim Soar is one of the rising stars of menswear in London. His approach to detail and tailoring have created a loyal following. I have been collecting a few of his pieces and have been happy with them until this February when I was in Thailand, that I noticed that the fastening button on my shorts had melted, yes melted! I have never witnessed this before or since. Since I am a man, I completely forgot about it until the high summer when I decided to send an email to Tim's customer services explaining what had happened. That same day, I received an email from Tim himself, saying he would sort this out personally. True to his word, a whole new set of buttons turned up a few days later with a cool note. I was touched as my experience in the fashion world has taught me that designers have a lot of people around them that "handle" things and to deal with my problem personally shows a lot of class.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Living on no money and stranger's kindness

I had run out of examples of kindness to post when I cam across this article from the BBC's website. Living on no money and strangers' kindness

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A Boston bus drivers kindness

To juxtapose Heirloom's bus driver example, a few weeks ago I took the bus to work and promptly went to eat. About ten minutes into my meal, a coworker called me to tell me something urgent demanded my attention. I figured she was just teasing me for eating while on the job, so I ignored her. Five minutes later she came to me and told me she was serious. So I went downstairs to find the bus driver, who had found my wallet on the back seat of the bus and came to deliver it personally. He ended up being at least 15 minutes late, and probably penalized for it. I was very, very grateful


Monday, 10 August 2009

A kind and unexpected gift from California

My wife returned from the BlogHer conference in Chicago bearing many gifts for the family. I, being partial to nuts, was the recipient of an array of exotic nut based snack foods. Amongst these was a Pearson's Salted Nut Roll. I examined this for a while wondering why a savoury snack was packaged like a confectionery bar. It was only when curiosity gave way to temptation that I finally sunk my teeth into it. I was first met with the saltiness of the peanuts but then my taste buds were assaulted by the sweetness of a nougat like centre. My brain was telling me that this was a weird and horrible combination, yet my mouth was strangely enjoying the challenges of the contrasting tastes. I finished it and thought that was it.

A few hours later the withdrawal symptoms started. This was a real problem as it is not a taste experience that can easily be replicated in the UK. Google did not provide any easy answers so I turned to Twitter. To my surprise one of my very kind Twitter friends @sprmama messaged me that a box of Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls were on its way to me from Sunny California. I had just tweeted that I wanted to know if anywhere in the UK sold these but my very kind friend took it upon herself to send me a box.

I was completely taken aback and still am today when they arrived at some expense to my friend who I had only exchanged occasional tweets with. As with all examples of kindness, I am humbled and thankful. In a way this not only shows the kindness of a person, but also one way that a social network can make our world a little smaller and a whole lot more welcoming.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Of bottles, snow a struggle to survive and a woman's generosity

last winter, on a very cold night an elderly lady was walking slowly in a snow storm picking up bottles and cans. Over here, most bottles are recyclable for a refund so often people who are more or less indigent pick them up to get some money. the lady had a bag half full as she was going by a building. a young woman came out of the building at the same time, and upon seeing the lady, she told her to wait there for a minute. she rushed upstairs back to her apartment, and a couple of minutes later came out handing two full bags of bottles to the lady. She helped her carry them to the store behind the corner where they could be returned, and the lady wouldn't need to look for anymore in the snow storm that night.

Mike L