Louise Wilce - Marketing Communications Manager

Full circle: one year after the launch of The Kindness Book, over 100,000 acts of kindness have been captured in a movement that believes kindness is the first step in ensuring humanity thrives.

The Kindness Book, a free resource for primary school children enabling the sharing of stories of kindness, is the first initiative by The Kindness Movement, launched on Armistice day 2018. The Kindness Movement was formed by brothers Jason Holt CBE and Stuart Acker Holt and chaired by business leader and Novacroft CEO & Founder Debra Charles to honour the life of Robert Acker Holt, who passed away in 2018 aged 94. 

Having fled the Nazis as a Jewish refugee, aged 16, his sons said he never forgot the small acts of kindness shown to him during this time.

Jason Holt, son of Robert Acker Holt, says:

They say that charity starts at home – and it was home where my brother Stuart and I were taught about the power of kindness in the most extreme circumstances: our father being a victim of nazi cruelty but experiencing kindness from Austrians who defied the regime to show kindness. These acts would shape the man who became my father.

Some 80 years later, and a year after the launch of the Kindness Movement, we have come full circle. The value of kindness is being nurtured, discussed and celebrated in schools and homes. Sparked from Dad’s story, the inspirational Debra Charles with a small group of friends has created a not for profit organisation which has impacted over 100,000 children around the world.  

If one person’s story can have such an impact the possibilities are endless in what we can do with 100,000.

The book has been translated from English into German, Dutch, French, Italian and Spanish, with thousands of copies distributed to schools in 41 countries. Co-Founder & Executive Director Ben Berger says:

Response from teachers has been amazing. It’s great to see how such a simple idea can evoke the enthusiasm of children around the world, no matter their background.

Tech leader and entrepreneur, Debra Charles, believes that encouraging kindness in children is imperative to a future where human interaction will be more important than ever. She says:

Today, we live in unpredictable times. We are advancing toward the greatest opportunities mankind could imagine, brought about through exponential advances in artificial intelligence and robotics. Known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, if we don’t have safeguarding humanity at the heart of everything we do, this will be the first industrial revolution where humans stand a chance of losing control and could become extinct. Do we want to leave this legacy for our children’s children? 

The provocative term ‘kindness’ is important because it’s not soft and fluffy, it is thoughtful action. It’s embracing softer skills such as finely tuned social and emotional skills. If we help children to consciously recognise that giving and receiving kindness helps both the giver and receiver to feel valued, we stand a greater chance of ensuring that advances in AI and Robotics are developed with the future of humanity at its heart. 

Future plans for The Kindness Movement include the distribution of thousands more books across the world, the goal being to collate over a million stories of kindness, which will become an exhibition in the future. A successful crowdfunding campaign led by Stuart Acker Holt has been used to fund kindness books to many more schools. 

Talking about what 2020 and beyond looks like for The Kindness Movement, Stuart says:

I feel privileged to be able to collaborate on this project with my father’s story at its heart. One  year after launch, I’ve been inspired seeing how different children, teachers and parents adopt the book as their own, particularly seeing how receiving and giving kindness asks of us to be a little bit fragile at times. Shared fragility connects us in many ways.

As we look to the year ahead we hope to work with the book to help children, parents and teachers learn about the importance of being kind online. Given that the book is aimed at children aged between seven and fifteen, this will be the same period children will start owning mobile phones and engaging with others online. We hope the book and our new website content will provide an outlet for the sort of stories that don’t seem to get traction on social media.

Jason says:

Dad would be in disbelief if he were here today to see what his story has led to.

Start collecting stories of kindness around you today Introducing The Kindness Film

Photography credit: Elina Nova