wheel of kindness

photo by Marc Cheatham

When Betsy from ART180 asked my good friend Marc Cheatham (of the famous RVA blog The Cheats Movement) and I to facilitate a program at Atlas, their new art center for teens, I was super stoked. Oh, how I love ART180, so much. I love their intention and process, their values, how they do things and hold a certain kind of space in the world.

To be honest, I was also a little worried about the whole thing. I had no idea if we had enough ideas/material to teach a 6 week class on Guerrilla Kindness…or rather what the approach should be so that it would be meaningful to teens. I knew teens hold all the power and goodness to access their call to kindness but I didn’t really know what the path would look like or how I could help exactly.

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…but the best part of art, kindness and facilitation  (not so much teaching really) is the teens really led the way. After a few weeks of connecting, talking, a few missions (remind me to tell you how they kindness bombed a city block) and a brainstorming session, the teens came up with THE MOST BRILLIANT KINDNESS PROJECT. 

I was out of my mind listening to them and watching the project evolve. I loved how bold and creative they were, how they each stepped into kindness in their own way.

I give you The Wheel of Kindness my friends:

wheel of kindness

Nic Cossitt, a good friend to ART 180 built the giant wheel of kindness with the help of the kids’ design and idea, then we all got to paint it together.

So here’s how it works:

1. A player spins the wheel and lands on a particular color.

2. They are given the same corresponding color balloon.

3. The person then pops the balloon (this part was SO much more exciting than I thought it was going to be).

4. Inside the balloon was their very own kindness mission rolled up on a scroll to be completed that day.

5. We included the hash tag #art180kindness on the little mission scroll so they could share their pictures of the kindness on twitter and instagram.

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It was so, so thrilling!!! We set up the wheel in front of ART180 on RVA’s First Fridays Art Walk and in conjunction with the

Love: Through the Eyes of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Exhibition 

at Atlas.

wheel of kindness3

photo by Marc Cheatham

The kids invited folks walking by to play, I was amazed how many different kinds of people joined us…and I wish we had more pictures of their faces. It may be almost impossible to walk by a giant rainbow wheel and not want to spin it. You find yourself yelling things like “Come on!!! Big kindness, big kindness, no whammies!” and cheering for someone, anyone to land on the double dog dare GOLD triangle of kindness.

It’s kind of wonderful when we let kindness lead even if we have no idea where it will go or how we will get there…when we invite joy, wonder and simply listen to each other…and when it all starts in friendship and connection. I think this is the magic of ART180- making space for all of that.

Early in the class, Marc asked the teens if there had ever been a time someone was kind to them, their faces went blank. I then asked them if anyone at ART180 had been kind to them, they all spoke at at once and on top of each other. My favorite answer was from a young man that really had not said one word all day… “They respect me here.”

wheel of kindness2

photo by Marc Cheatham

If you are in RVA, you can still see the Wheel of Kindness at The Big Show on May 15th at 6pm at Planet Zero (0 E. 4th Street) along with art from kids across the city.

Hope to see you there or hopefully on some street corner in the future spinnin’ the wheel!