We all have it in us to touch the lives of others . . .

Imagine, for a moment, you’re a farmer . . .

The planting, the ploughing and the picking. Your body. The machines. The days that are hot and the days that are not.

The bending down. The lifting up. The carrying around. The intense physical exertion. The mornings and the afternoons spent toiling in the fields.

Think about the obstacles. Think about the challenges. Jobs don’t get much more difficult . . .

Imagine, now, having no arms and no legs and still, somehow, rising to that challenge. Overcoming the obstacles. Refusing to be beaten. Showing that, with determination, with courage, with the right attitude, anything can be achieved. Sounds rather far-fetched, right?

Here at OM®, we had our doubts but Chris, the indefatigable farmer in question, has shown that our scepticism couldn’t have been more misplaced.

Born without arms or legs, Chris’ tale should serve as an inspiration to us all, underlining, as it does, that no matter the hand life has dealt us, our potential is unlimited. Most people, ourselves included, spend so long focusing on the things that we cannot do that we lose sight of that which is within our capabilities . . .

So Chris isn’t able to operate a chainsaw, but that doesn’t deter him. Far from it, in fact . . .

To borrow a phrase from Nick Vujicic, with whom Chris’ tale bears some obvious similarities, no arms, no legs, no worries.

‘Some people are ashamed of their freckles,’ Chris says. ‘Some people are ashamed of that spare tire around their waist. They’ve got big ears or a big nose or whatever. I think if you’re worried about how you look [or what you can’t do], you’re cheating yourself out of opportunities’.

Here at OM®, this struck quite a chord . . .

So much so that we’d like you to take five minutes or so to watch this short film. Listen to Chris. Think about his message. Think about his example. You can’t fail to be inspired.

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It’s remarkable stuff and there’s not a great deal more for us to add. In life, inspiration comes in all forms.

Not much is as persuasive as Chris . . .

Think about this, about the things YOU can do and the obstacles that can be overcome. The challenges that can be met. The achievements. The courage. The rewards.

Think about those around you and how your example might inspire them. We all have it in us to touch the lives of others. This is, perhaps, our greatest gift.

Here’s to Chris. Here’s to courage. Here’s to refusing to be beaten. Life is for living. You CAN do it.

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‘If everyone does a little more for those less fortunate, we’ll have a better society . . .’

cop

Kindness is no more . . .

You could be forgiven for thinking this and the images from Europe – the refugees, the tear gas, the barbed wire, the suffering – might seem to support such a view.

You’d be mistaken, however. It isn’t the case.

Kindness survives. It persists. It endures . . .

In our homes. In our communities. In our hearts. In our thoughts and in our deeds . . .

In the small acts. These little things don’t often make it onto the mainstream news agenda.

That doesn’t mean that such things – such kindnesses – don’t occur. Far from it, in fact.

Take, for instance, the moment last weekend that Danielle Coonradt, a police officer in Troy, New York, sat down outside the courtroom to eat her breakfast. It’s a moment captured on camera. The image is blurry, but it matters not.

Everything that is important has been captured. The small act. The kindness. The connection . . .

In these terms, the picture couldn’t be clearer.

Sitting down next to Officer Coonradt is a man called Eric Dineen. He is homeless. On the morning in question, the rain had been falling for quite some time and, with nowhere to shelter, Eric’s need was obvious . . .

That Officer Coonradt sat down next to him, spoke to him like a human being and shared her breakfast proves that, despite suggestions to the contrary, kindness endures.

In our thoughts and in our deeds. In the small acts. The things that matter.

‘She decided to share her breakfast with someone who needed it more, it’s a great message,’ said Kyle McCauley Belocopitsky, who took the image from across the street.

‘It’s the first time that’s ever happened to me,’ admitted Eric afterwards. ‘You know, sitting down and eating with an officer. We talked about everything that’s going on with me. She said that normally, she just sits in the car to eat breakfast.’

This might seem like a small act, but the fact that, for once, Officer Coonradt chose to leave her car, to talk, to share and to connect, is a big thing. The reason? Kindness is contagious . . .

Not long afterwards, Samantha Fredette, who works at Bruegger’s Bagels, just up from the courthouse, spotted another homeless man and, inspired, decided to do something about it.

‘I figured, you know, good karma,’ she explained. ‘He needed a little food in his stomach and so I brought him a bagel and cream cheese’.

The chain reaction has begun. There’s no telling where it might end . . .

‘I just hope that, if everyone does a little more for those less fortunate, we’ll have a better society,’ added Kyle. This is a hope that, here at OM®, we all share.

That kindness lives is clear. In our hearts. In our thoughts and in our deeds. If everyone could just do a little more to connect, to be a little more like Danielle Coonradt, we WILL make a big difference . . .

To those around us. To those in need. To the refugees in Europe. To those dealing with the devastating earthquake in Chile this morning. To those in our own communities. On our own doorsteps. To those crying out for a little compassion.

Kindness survives. It persists. It endures . . .

OM, OM by Miquette, connected, connection, We are all connected, Miquette Bishop, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, World Suicide Prevention Day 2014, One World Connected, suicide, suicide prevention

We are all connected.

‘Walk in somebody else’s shoes, see through their eyes . . .’

we are all connected, kindness, compassion, Miquette Bishop, OM, OM by Miquette, Saunderstown, Rhode Island

Terror in Tunisia. In South Carolina, carnage. Isis’ influence all around us, the threat level as high as it has ever been. Life on Earth isn’t always a picnic. For all the pleasure, there is also pain.

Hatred. Intolerance. Disaffection. Spite. The easiest thing, perhaps, would be to give up on people, to lose heart and abandon faith. That, in the main, we’re stronger than that is the the thing that gives us the most hope. Resilience. Determination. Belief. Trust. These are the qualities that come to the fore at times such as these. Kindness and love abound. For all our divisions, we remain connected.

Grace is something that has been discussed a lot in recent days. President Obama even sang about it at Clementa Pinckney’s funeral service in Charleston, his heart-rending speech one that struck quite a chord here at OM®.

‘[Reverend Pinckney] conducted himself quietly, kindly, diligently,’ the president said. ‘He encouraged progress not by pushing his ideas alone, but by seeking out your ideas, partnering with you to make things happen. He was full of empathy and fellow feeling, able to walk in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes.’

Empathy. Partnership. Kindness. These are the things that inspire our quest. The things that speak to us. The things that make us, hard thought it is sometimes, believe.

That these are concepts foreign to Seifeddine Rezgui, Dylann Roof and all the others who perpetrate such dreadful deeds is quite clear. That we must not allow that to derail us in our journeys is a fact beyond all question.

‘There is no short cut,’ President Obama said. There have been bumps in the road – and there are sure to be more – but we mustn’t turn back or deviate from our chosen course. It is the correct course, the right path and the progress that the president spoke about continues to be made, a little at a time, perhaps, but progress nevertheless.

It is a progress that, for all their hatred, all their intolerance and all their spite, Dylann Roof, Seifeddine Rezgui and their like can never hope to halt. For kindness is a powerful force and love conquers all.

In recent days, Reverend Keith Hunter, a pastor in South Carolina, has spoken about this being a ‘wake-up call’, the tragic events in Charleston ‘beginning a process of transformation’. For that transformation to proceed, we must not give up on people, lose heart or abandon faith. Empathy. Partnership. Kindness. These are the things that matter. Despite our differences. Despite the divisions. Despite all that has gone before.

Take a look at the rainbow flags that are all over Facebook and think about tolerance. Listen to Donald Trump and think about division. Here is a presidential candidate who is talking about building walls . . .

For real progress to be made, for our journeys to continue, for love to conquer, we all need to start knocking them down.

No more terror? No more carnage? No more pain? It might seem like too much to hope for just now, but here at OM® our faith remains intact and our determination strong.

Here’s to transformation. Here’s to progress. Here’s to kindness. Here’s to love. Here’s to knocking down walls . . .

Singa, Singapore, kindness, OM, OM by Miquette, Miquette Bishop, we are all connected

We are all connected.

The cool thing about kindness? It feels REALLY good!

Alex

You don’t need to be big to make an impact on this world . . .

You don’t need special qualifications. You don’t need to be rich. You don’t need to make extravagant or grand gestures. You don’t even need to be a grown up.

Take Alex McKelvey, for instance. She possesses the one thing that matters: a kind heart.

‘I just think that, if an eight-year-old can do this, anyone can do this,’ says Sarah, her mom.

Here at OM®, we’re inclined to agree . . .

In September 2013, in order to honor Linda, her late grandmother, Alex committed to do 60 acts of kindness. The deadline set was March 22, 2014, which would have been Linda’s 60th birthday. The target was met with considerable ease.

‘We bought coffee, ice cream, donated various things, went to IHOP and left a cool tip for our waitress, went on a shopping spree and bought toys for the children’s hospital,’ says Sarah. ‘She had so much fun doing it, you could see the enjoyment on her face’.

That enjoyment, incidentally, was found in helping others. In making their lives that little bit better. In putting a smile on their faces . . .

That’s the cool thing about kindness: it feels REALLY good.

‘I want to show the world why I’m doing this,’ explains Alex. ‘It makes me feel like . . . it just makes me super-happy.’

Mission accomplished, those initial 60 acts complete, Alex had no intention of calling time on her quest.

‘So we said, why not add an extra zero?’ says Sarah. ‘Why not go for 600?’ Plan made, the benevolent pair did just that . . .

Leaving quarters in vending machines. Volunteering at a local mission. Giving strangers flowers. The good deeds have continued and, in recent days, number 600 has been clocked up. There have been certain sacrifices. Those making them have no doubt they’re worthwhile.

‘We’re not rich or even close to it, but we decided to use our resources in a different way,’ adds Sarah. ‘We’ve given up a few luxuries and we’ve chosen to live a simple life’.

Here at OM®, this is something that strikes quite a chord . . .

You see, like Sarah and Alex, we like to help others. To put a smile on people’s faces. To make their lives just that little bit better. To connect.

You don’t need to be big. You don’t need special qualifications. You don’t need to be rich or to make grand or extravagant gestures. You don’t even need to be a grown up. You just need a kind heart . . .

Like Alex, who has, in recent days, decided that, like 60, 600 good deeds are just not enough.

‘We’re going to do thousands, then a million,’ she adds. ‘I’d like to reach so many people’.

If an eight-year-old can do this, there’s no question in our minds that anyone can do this . . .

Jacob Flesher, Miquette Bishop, OM by Miquette, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, we are all connected

We are all connected.

You can make a difference. You can move mountains.

dashrath

The people said that it couldn’t be done. His critics called him crazy . . .

Yet Dashrath Manjhi could not be deterred. Dashrath Manjhi refused to be beaten.

For more than TWO DECADES, using nothing but a hammer, chisel and, at times, his bare hands, Dashrath Manjhi chipped away at the 300-foot mountain that stood between his small village, where the people had no prospects and precious little to look forward to, and the nearest town, with its jobs and its schools and its doctors.

That town, incidentally, was just one kilometre away, yet the imposing mountain meant that a journey 75 TIMES as long must be made in order to reach it. That the journey was also hazardous (those making it required to negotiate a narrow and treacherous pass) made the town even more inaccessible. One day, whilst attempting to cross the mountain, Dashrath’s wife slipped, fell and suffered serious injuries. Unable to access the medical resources on offer in the town, her condition deteriorated. She later died.

Fearing further accidents, and aware that his people could not hope to thrive in such a deprived and limited location, Dashrath decided to do something about it.

He had no money, no skills and, other than his basic hammer and chisel, no equipment. Yet although he faced a mountain (quite literally) he began to build a road . . .

Through the hillside, chipping at the rocks, ignoring the taunts from those adamant that he stood no chance.

Night and day, around the clock and in all conditions, he hammered and he scraped and he dug and he quarried, never giving up, his determination to succeed steadfast.

In time, the taunts stopped and, from time to time, people brought him food (although he continued to dig alone). The town got nearer and the people began to believe. Having started in 1960, Dashrath made the all-important breakthrough in 1982. No-one laughed at him then and he became a revered figure, whose toil and self-sacrifice had given them the means to change their lives. He became known as Mountain Man.

The question here is what motivated Mountain Man? What kept him going for all that time? What powered such a remarkable feat? What could keep his hammer striking and block out all the naysayers.

The chance to prove them wrong? Perhaps. The chance to demonstrate that an individual can achieve anything? For certain.

One man, chipping away. For the greater good, for everybody. For his people . . .

For community. For change. For connection.

Dashrath died in 2007, but not before he had touched countless lives and not before he had made the most profound difference to all around him.

Even now, all this time later, his influence abounds and his spirit is all around . . .

Because he put himself out there. Because he decided to make a difference. Because he ignored his critics. Because he refused to be beaten.

You too can make a difference. You too can move mountains. Think about it some time . . .

OM India

We are all connected.

Take a whole lot of butterflies and get them to flap their wings!

chris ros

Kindness. You just need to give a little. It goes an awful long way . . .

Chris Rosati has proved as much in recent times, his small deed spreading from North Carolina to Sierra Leone. It’s an act he says proves the Butterfly Effect is rather more than a whimsical notion.

Kind actions performed on one side of the planet can impact upon lives on the other. It cost Chris $100 to prove it. It was money well spent.

The $100 in question he gave to two girls, Cate and Anna Cameron, who just happened to be sitting at the next table to him at Elmo’s Diner in Durham. Chris had never met Cate and Anna and, not long after their chance encounter, he forgot all it. The girls did not.

You see, Chris had instructed them to use the $100 to ‘do something kind’ and the pair took the task seriously . . .

So seriously, in fact, that they chose to send the money to a small village in West Africa, where the people were celebrating having just been declared Ebola-free.

Cate and Anna’s father had spent some time there, working with the Peace Corps, and as a result, this was something close to their hearts. The $100, Anna and Cate instructed, was to be used to fund a feast. Chris, long gone and having forgotten all about it, was oblivious to it all.

Until one morning he received an email. It originated in Africa. The attached image said it all.

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The Butterfly Effect: From North Carolina to Sierra Leone. Lives linked. Kindness spread. Connections made. Point proved.

Not that it ends there. You see, in addition to funding the feast, Chris’ kind act has touched innumerable others, not least Cate and Anna, inspiring, educating and showing them just what is possible.

‘This was the Butterfly Effect,’ he says. ‘One act of kindness. How far can it go?’

The answer is an awful long way. That Chris is achieving so much in North Carolina ought to serve as a lesson to us all . . .

You see, Chris has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and as a result is confined to a wheelchair. His body might be slowing down and his speech impaired, but Chris has proved that anyone can do anything if the desire to make a change is great enough.

Just over 12 months ago, he (jokingly) hatched a plan to steal a truck from a local donut factory and spend the day delivering free treats to those he encountered. Having been tipped off, the donut company provided a van (and the all-important donuts) and allowed Chris to give them away. Having seen the impact that Cate and Anna’s kindness made, he’s now planning a series of so-called Butterfly Grants, $50 donations to children that, he hopes, will be used to spread goodwill to people near and far.

That plan, he says, is to take ‘a whole lot of butterflies and get them to flap their wings’.

Here at OM®, where we count ourselves among those whose lives Chris has touched, we couldn’t be more inspired.

om butterflyWe are all connected.

This is a small world and we’re all connected together . . .

OM, OM by Miquette, connected, connection, We are all connected, Miquette Bishop, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, World Suicide Prevention Day 2014, One World Connected, suicide, suicide prevention

Ever given much thought to how we are all connected? Not just as people, but as a planet?

Our lives intertwine, that much is quite clear, even if the precise reasons for that fabled Red Thread remain inexplicable. But everything else, our environment, our existence and all that is going on, both around us and on a global scale? Think about it some time. It can be a mind-blowing concept.

Think about life. Think about dust, for it is perhaps here that the most profound connections of all can be discovered.

In recent times, for instance, researchers from the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), this a collaboration between the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, have reached the most remarkable conclusion.

It is one that might seem to be too far-fetched to be true. It is one that connects the world’s largest desert and its greatest rainforest.

You might think that The Sahara and The Amazon have little in common. One is hostile, arid and bare, the other the richest and most diverse source of life on Earth. Several thousand miles separate these two great and different lands, yet there is a connection and it’s one that has immense consequence.

You see, although it supports such an abundance of life, The Amazon is renowned for its nutrient-poor soils. Because 90% of the rainforest’s soils are low in phosphorous, intensive farming in the region is all but impossible. Moreover, tens of thousands of tons of nitrogen are washed away by the river system each year, which exacerbates the issue. So how does the rainforest replenish its lost phosphorous and maintain its astonishing ecosystem? The answer, believe it or not, is dust.

Dust that contains just the right amount of phosphorous to replace that which is lost to the rivers. Dust that is crucial for keeping The Amazon alive. Dust that, altogether, weighs an astonishing 27.7 MILLION tons. Dust that was whipped up from the Bodélé Depression in Chad, an ancient African lake bed that is super-rich in phosphorous.

That this dust that blows across the Atlantic Ocean contains sufficient phosphorous (22,000 tons) to maintain The Amazon’s fragile balance is something that not even the smartest scientists on Earth are able to explain, but some things in all this are quite clear: all life is linked, nothing occurs in isolation, everything has a consequence, we are all connected.

‘We know that dust is very important in many ways,’ says Hongbin Yu, the lead author of this remarkable research. ‘It’s an essential component of the Earth system. Dust will affect climate and, at the same time, climate change will affect dust. This is a small world and we’re all connected together’.

It’s the smallest things that make the biggest differences in life. Things that might seem inconsequential or unimportant. Things like dust.

Life on Earth would be VERY different without The Amazon, the life it supports and the impact that it has on our planet.

That so much depends on dust, African dust that emanates from the harshest environment known to man, is beyond extraordinary.

So much in life is unknown, but we are all connected. That much, at least, is beyond question.

Kindness is in the air (and it has a habit of finding those who most need it) . . .

James Robertson is 56.

He lives just outside Detroit, in Rochester Hills. He works the 2-10pm shift at a factory, operating a complicated-looking injection-molding machine.

From Mondays through to Fridays, he walks to work. Nothing unusual in that, you might think. You’d be mistaken.

You see, James’ commute requires him to travel 21 miles EVERY DAY. On foot. It’s an undertaking he has endured since 2005, when his aged Honda gave up and died. In the rain and in the snow, along 8 Mile and through other dangerous neighborhoods, James plods along, his job not paying enough to replace the Honda, the local bus routes not providing a service that enables him to get from his home to his workplace.

‘I can’t imagine not working,’ he says. So he continues to walk . . .

james

In order to start his shift at 2pm, James must leave Rochester Hills at 8am. He gets home at 4am the following morning, sleeps until 6am and then gets up and prepares to do it all over again. He earns $10.55 an hour at Schain Mold & Engineering and cannot afford to move closer to work. He is softly-spoken and never complains. From being beaten up to enduring the elements, the hardships are immense. Just one thing keeps him going . . .

‘Faith,’ he explains. ‘I’m not saying I’m a member of some church, but just before I get home I say, ‘Lord, keep me safe’.’

In recent days, since the Detroit Free Press documented his story, James’ faith has been repaid (and then some). You see, the community, having heard about this remarkable man’s plight, did something VERY special.

In less than one week, donations from 12,500 people totalled $335,000. Then a local Ford dealership presented him with a brand new car, a red Taurus, worth $37,000, this a marked improvement on the old Honda that, unlike its determined driver, couldn’t last the distance.

‘If only my parents could see me now,’ says James, who, and let’s be clear on this, never once asked for help. Kindness, though, it’s in the air. In Detroit and all over the world. It has a habit of finding those who most need it.

This is a tale that appealed to us a great deal here at OM® because at its root are people. Coming together. Standing together. Making a difference. Connecting . . .

People like Evan Leedy, the 19-year-old college student who set the ball rolling with a crowdfunding campaign. People like Blake Pollock, the banker who, having grown accustomed to seeing James during his own commute, would stop and give a total stranger a ride if ever their respective paths crossed. People like the plant manager’s wife at Schain, who liked to send in home-cooked meals for James in order to keep him going. People like all those who, having read Bill Laitner’s inspirational article in the Detroit Free Press, contacted the newspaper and offered to give James a car, a bike, a ride, whatever he needed. People like James himself, who is appreciative and uncomfortable in equal measure. James who, for all his glad tidings, is concerned about others who might find themselves in a similar situation. That’s the thing about kindness, it tends to be contagious.

‘I’ll never forget this,’ adds James, who travels to work in rather more comfort (and a little less time) these days. Here at OM®, neither will we.

Tabit, OM, OM by Miquette, Miquette Bishop, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, we are all connected

We are all connected.

Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine: forever connected . . .

Gunter Demnig, Stolpersteine, OM, OM by Miquette, Miquette Bishop, connected, connection, we are all connected, Saunderstown, Rhode Island

Here at OM®, we love to learn about inspirational individuals . . .

Those on a mission to make a difference. Those doing good deeds and setting an example to others. Those changing lives and reshaping attitudes. Those being creative and putting their artistic talents to good use.

For us, Gunter Demnig ticks all the boxes. His is a tale that demands to be told.

Not everyone is a fan and the 66-year-old does have his critics. From time to time, Gunter receives death threats from neo-Nazi groups, yet he refuses to be bullied. He is convinced that his is a cause that justifies such things. Here at OM®, we’re inclined to agree.

Since 1996, Gunter has dedicated himself to a project that he calls Stolpersteine. In German, this means stumbling blocks and the translation is quite literal . . .

You see, for almost two decades, Gunter has been fixing brass plaques to sidewalks in German towns, villages and cities to commemorate victims of the Nazis. Each plaque chronicles a person’s life and death in its starkest details, giving an individual’s name, year of birth and death (if known) and brief details as to their fate. The Stolpersteine are attached to sidewalks outside the last-known residence of Jews who were deported and killed during the Holocaust. Before 2014 is over their number is forecast to total 50,000.

‘The [Holocaust] Monument in Berlin is abstract and centrally-located,’ explains Gunter. ‘But if the stone is in front of your house, you’re confronted. People start talking. To think about six million victims is abstract. But to think about a murdered family is concrete’.

Inspiration for Stolpersteine came, Gunter says, after he thought about the anonymous nature of those killed at the concentration camps, where victims were identified by numbers rather than their names.

In creating a unique plaque and placing it on the sidewalk outside a person’s last-known home, he explains, ‘the name is given back’ and the impact increased.

‘When I got the idea, I thought it was a good concept,’ he says. ‘It will always be symbolic, because it will never be possible to lay Stolpersteine for the millions of victims of the Nazis. I thought maybe it will reach a hundred, then maybe a thousand, but now it’s clear [that] it will go on for a long time.

‘There are about 48,000 now, and I’m sure we’ll reach 50,000 this year. [In the future] I’ll set up a foundation to continue the work.’

Gunter Demnig, Stolpersteine, OM, OM by Miquette, Miquette Bishop

Some plaques remember well-known victims, such as Anne Frank, but most commemorate those long-forgotten and those whose stories have never before been told. It is this – a determination to underline the unimaginable scale of the Holocaust, to highlight the human cost and to ensure that a terrible past is not allowed to be brushed under history’s carpet – that is at the root of Gunter’s work. Imagine finding out that a Holocaust victim once lived in YOUR house. Talk about food for thought.

Not all those commemorated were Jews, as Gunter explains: ‘[Some were] Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, dissidents, forced laborers [and] deserters,’ he says. ‘[But] they were all victims of the Nazis. In some places, there were more handicapped people killed than Jews . . .’

This is the bottom line: That all were people, all met a similar fate and, in this, all are forever connected. It is this – the mystical Red Thread, once again – that makes Gunter and his Stolpersteine such a compelling subject here in our studio. It strikes us that, in our own lives, we could all use something to make us stop and think from time to time. In a metaphorical sense, at least, EVERYONE needs stumbling blocks . . .

To make us take stock. To prompt us to remember. To remind us to be tolerant, kinder and more considerate. To underline the fact that – despite all our differences – deep down, we are all connected. Here’s to understanding. Here’s to Gunter. Here’s to Stolpersteine . . .

Salm, OM, OM by Miquette, connected, connection, we are all connected, Gunter Demnig, Stolpersteine

We are all connected

Brave. Bold. Resilient. Resourceful. Imaginative. Inspirational.

Trisha Prabhu, cyberbullying, Google Science Fair, OM, OM by Miquette, Miquette Bishop, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, we are all connected

Young people can be amazing . . .

Brave. Bold. Resilient. Resourceful. Imaginative. Inspirational. Take Trisha Prabhu, for instance.

Just 13-years-old, Trisha has, like countless teenagers, experienced cyber bullying at first hand. In her case, it centered around her fashion sense (as Trisha explains, ‘I was bullied about my wardrobe [and] the things that I chose to wear’), the insults hurtful and cruel. Unlike others in a similar situation, she refused to be pushed around . . .

Instead, Trisha set about developing a computer program designed to make bullies think about their actions and their consequences. It’s a system that she has called Rethink.

Rethink, because it urges those preparing to post a cruel comment online to do just that. Rethink has the potential to do immense good, so much so that Trisha has, as a result, been named among the 15 finalists at the forthcoming Google Global Science Fair. It’s quite an achievement.

Trisha decided to act after hearing about Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old from Florida, who committed suicide last September. Rebecca had complained about being bullied in the months leading up to her tragic death. Something struck a chord. Rethink was born.

Having studied the brain, Trisha learnt that the prefrontal cortex (the part that regulates self-control) doesn’t reach full development until a person turns 25. This means that teenagers, due to their brain structure, are impulsive and liable to act without thinking about the consequences. Rethink doesn’t stop someone posting a cruel comment. But, having recognized damaging words (such as ugly, loser or stupid), it does urge users to consider their actions before pressing the button and, what’s more, trials suggest it works.

‘It says to cyberbullies, as they’re about to post something offensive, ‘Whoa, are you sure you want to post that on a social media site? It could be offensive’,’ explains Trisha. ‘It tells them, ‘Rethink what you’re about to do’. It’ll pick up on the hurtful words and it’ll tell them ‘That’s not the right context. That’s not the right message’. It sounds simple, but we’ve seen kids changing their minds, which is amazing.’

The results are amazing. You see, having trialed Rethink on 533 teenagers, 93% changed their mind and decided not to post a comment that Rethink flagged up as being offensive . . .

‘I’m looking forward to a future where we have conquered cyberbulling,’ says Trisha. Given that half of all teenagers are believed to have experienced cyberbullying – and that 20% suffer it on a regular basis – this is a big statement to make. But brave and bold, resilient and resourceful, imaginative and inspirational, we have no doubt that Trisha can succeed. Let’s face it, if anyone can do it, she can.

Trisha isn’t just making teenagers think twice about their actions, she’s inspiring us all. To consider other people and their feelings. To recognize the consequences of our actions. To be a little nicer. To have a rethink.

Here at OM®, where our faith in young people is just about unshakable, this is a tale that has struck quite a chord and we’d like to wish Trisha well at the Google Global Science Fair. Brave and bold, resilient and resourceful, imaginative and inspirational, she has our vote . . .

Tabit, OM, OM by Miquette, Miquette Bishop, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, we are all connected

We are all connected. 

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