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The Ben’s Bells Thousand Acts of Kindness challenge closes with demonstration by Old Main

Chastity Laskey
A chain of red and blue links symbolizing intentional acts of kindness lay on the grass of the UA mall.

Red and blue paper chains, each one signifying an act of kindness or volunteerism, lined the steps of Old Main yesterday to mark the success of the division of Government and Community Relations,within the Office of University Relations, and its completion of the 1,000 Acts of Kindness Challenge.

A year after being challenged to complete 1,000 acts of kindness by Arizona Athletics, the Department of Government and Community Relations, in partnership with UA faculty, staff and campus clubs, celebrated their combined total of 3,600 acts of kindness on the UA Mall.

Ben’s Bells, an organization dedicated to educating people about the importance of intentional acts of kindness and recognized locally for its green “Be Kind” stickers, was the first to bring the project to the UA. In an effort to spread its message about the impacts of kindness, Ben’s Bells challenged Arizona Athletics to complete 1,000 acts of kindness.

After completing its share, Arizona Athletics passed the challenge to UA Community Relations, which brought together faculty and students to go above and beyond the target goal of 1,000 acts.

“I know from being on this campus there is a lot of kindness here” said Laura Gronewold, director of education for the Ben’s Bells project. “We can make a conscious shift the more we practice kindness.”

UA faculty and clubs like Mortar Board Senior Honorary, the Student Health Advocacy Committee, as well as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars all participated in the project. Acts of kindness were completed at the Spring Fling Food Drive, through the UA Cares campaign, and by individuals on and off campus.

“We got faculty, staff and students involved from many different areas and departments,” said Sheila McGinnis, director of Outreach and Community Partnerships. “It spread slowly, but our final number is 3,600 and we are very proud of that.”

Beloved mascot, Wilbur, joined participants in the 1,000 Acts of Kindness Challenge this morning to take a few pictures with the symbolic and massive paper chain. Every individual piece represents kindness and community.

Ben’s Bells was founded on the idea that everyone has the ability to be kind, a skill that the organization believes can be cultivated through practice. The 1,000 Acts of Kindness Challenge is intended to encourage people to practice kindness and to have the best intentions behind their actions.

Ben’s Bells has also partnered with researchers of neurological sciences at UA to study kindness.

“We know that different areas of our brains light up when we are practicing kindness and receiving kindness,” Gronewold said. “Simply witnessing kindness really gives us that lift and makes us want to do it more.”

The Office of Community Relations has not made any final decisions about who it is going to pass the challenge onto next because it was able to involve so many different departments in this challenge. Overall, the office is excited the project was able to spread so extensively throughout the campus community and hinted that the UA College of Medicine might be the next recipient of the Ben’s Bells 1,000 Acts of Kindness Challenge.

The giant paper chain may have been a temporary fixture at the UA; however, the practice of kindness is something that Ben’s Bells hopes is here to stay.

Follow Brice Lennon on Twitter.

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