Community joins worldwide effort to promote positivity
What does kindness mean to you?
On Sunday, community members of all ages and from all backgrounds will gather together in Homer and all around the world to participate in Dance for Kindness, a global kickoff event to World Kindness Day, Nov. 13.
Created in 2012 by nonprofit Life Vest Inside — whose mission it is to empower and unite the world with kindness — this global event includes a freeze mob, with participants holding a kindness pose for a set amount of time and a flash mob, with participants dancing the same dance to the same song.
During the past six years, more than 15,000 people from more than 120 cities across 50 countries have participated as a way to recognize our differences and promote the importance of kindness.
"The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves — beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion and realize that we are citizens of the world and that kindness is the common thread that unites us all," according to Life Vest Inside's website.
The dance helps to promote the need for kindness and positivity in the world, something that Dance for Kindness Homer coordinator Kevyn Jalone feels very passionately about.
"The idea is to inspire and empower people," she said. "There's a really nice feeling knowing that someone in Argentina can be as inspired to encourage kindness as someone in Homer is."
Last year, Homer was the only community in Alaska to participate, with approximately 50 people dancing. Jalone has high hopes that the number will be higher this year.
"I'd love to see more people come out this year, but I'd be happy if even just one person danced with me," she said.
Homer's second-annual Dance for Kindness event will be held at Homer High School on Nov. 12, from 2 to around 3:15 p.m., on the soccer field if weather allows, or in the commons area inside if the weather is poor.
The local event will include both parts — the freeze mob, where a song is played and everyone is asked to freeze in a position that demonstrates an act of kindness.
"Last year, people froze in positions where they were picking something up, tying someone's shoe, high-fiving someone, handing someone a flower," Jalone said. "The idea is to demonstrate that there are opportunities for small acts of kindness all around us."
During the flash mob, participants will dance the same dance to the same song that everyone around the world is dancing to. Every year, this anthem song changes, and this year's song is Revolution of Love by Charles Preston.
While Kevyn serves as the event leader, she has help from several community volunteers, assisting with everything from registration, photography and videography, holding flags to dance leaders.
Last year, local Zumba teacher Maria Santa Lucia volunteered her time, helping to facilitate the use of her music equipment, as well as helping with the choreography.
"It's not really about the dancing or doing a dance routine well, it's about our community coming together on behalf of being loving and kind," she said "We need more kindness in the world today and this is a good reminder about being good to each other."
Amy Russell, a teacher's aide at West Homer Elementary, helped with registration and photography.
"It brought together a diverse group of people and left me feeling positive and joyous," she said. "Honestly, I was surprised by my own reaction to the event. I was all business about it, but after witnessing all those strangers coming together to recognize and demonstrate kindness, I was genuinely touched."
Katie Jo Gamble, manager and escrow officer at First American Title, participated as a dance leader.
"I love the idea of people coming together for the purpose of dancing for kindness," she said. "Homer people love to dance and love kindness, so it's the best of all worlds."
This year, Katie Jo will again lead dancers through the moves. She is especially excited about the freeze mob poses.
"Last year, all the poses were so genuinely sweet and seeing all those lovely acts of kindness really resonated with me," she said. "It reminded me that there are so many small acts of kindness that we can do every day. This event stays with you afterwards, as you go about your day and there are little ripple effects from this."
This year's Dance for Kindness Homer program is cosponsored by the City of Homer's Community Recreation program.
Mike Illg, community recreation manager said the Dance for Kindness mission is a direct fit with a community recreation program designed to recognize cultural diversity and address social and community concerns.
He shared that it is aligned with its mission as well, which is to promote community involvement and lifelong learning through educational and recreational opportunities to people of all ages.
In addition to providing access to the high school and the soccer field free of charge to the nonprofit, Illg is helping to promote the event through community recreation brochures, website and Facebook page.
"A lot of folks look at community recreation as a sports program, but we strive to partner with entities to promote strong cultural special events, and this is one of them," he said. "Kindness is a big part of our community culture in Homer and in Alaska. When you get down to it, Alaskans help one another, and we need to be reminded of that."
Jalone shared that she would like to see this local event grow.
"I am open to ideas for other ways we can combine this with a donation drive or other event," she said. "I would love for this to be a seed for more positive and kind things we can do in our community."
After Dance for Kindness is over, Life Vest International takes all of the photographs and videos sent in to them by the various communities and melds them into a video that is used to market the event and to show unity of the countries.
Dance for Kindness Homer participants and volunteers will meet in the high school commons area at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12. Everyone is encouraged to pre-register at danceforkindness.com, and wear something orange. Orange symbolizes unity, kindness, acceptance and inclusion. People can make a sign sharing in words or drawings what kindness means to them.
If individuals pre-register, they will be sent a link to the choreography so they can practice the dance at home; otherwise, people showing up the day of will have the opportunity to practice during a set rehearsal time in the commons area. The dance itself will last about seven minutes long. There is a small fee of $5 per person that is donated to Life Vest Inside, but Jalone shared that no one will be turned away if they are unable to pay.
Pre-register at Danceforkindness.com. Check out the local event page on Facebook — Dance for Kindness Homer. For more information, contact coordinator Kevyn Jalone at 399-8188 or email@example.com.