Colourful music jingles through Oak Bay parks this week as a crew of volunteers sets about hanging little freebies in local parks.
Inspired by the American campaign Ben’s Bells, Janna Gisler tagged friend Melissa Madison to build the chime-like bells to inspire happiness in public spaces.
“Victoria is totally the place to do that,” Gisler said. “Giving back to the community is extremely important to me. This community supports me so much in business and personally that I just want to give back.”
Madison, a local elementary school teacher, advocates for building social-emotional skills early on in life and is well known for her Kind Kids Club where students practice random act of kindness on a regular basis. The long-time friends hope to inspire, encourage and connect community members in the intentional practice of kindness with the Fired Up! For Kindness Bells Project.
Gisler, owner of the paint-your-own-ceramics studio, and Madison crafted the clay bell components at the Fort Street studio.
“For us to start from scratch is a big thing,” Gisler said. Pieces that clients paint on a drop-in basis usually come in preformed. This time they crafted the individual clay pieces – one large and two smaller “beads” – that staff assemble and volunteers hang in community parks.
“It’s just promoting mental health in our community,” said Gisler, a UVic psychology graduate. “Random Acts of Kindness has been shown to increase mood.”
Volunteers have planted the seeds of music and kindness in paths and parks from Tillicum to Fernwood. They plan to hit Oak Bay parks the first week of August.
“We have a whole batch that is going to go out in Oak Bay,” Gisler said.
The components are $6. Staff assemble the bells and volunteers disseminate them in random places.
“Anyone can drop in at any time and paint a bell,” she said. “There are kids as young as four just putting beautiful colours on them and that looks amazing too.”
The bells will ring throughout parks and public spaces, creating not only an audible lure, but a visual one as well.
Finders are encouraged to detach the bell from its hanging place and keep it as a gentle reminder to practice daily kindness or continue the cycle and gift the bell to someone else.
Kindness can jumpstart a cascade of social consequences and Gisler and Madison hope to spark this feel-good movement locally by producing and dispersing more than 100 Kindness Bells over the summer.
While Fired Up! lies just outside Oak Bay borders, Gisler has strong ties to the community. A director with the Rotary Club of Oak Bay, she serves as chair of the youth services committee. “Being a Rotarian is really important to me and to my family,” she said.
She and 18-month-old son Garon enjoy the Rotary-funded waterpark adjacent to Carnarvon Park. Gisler loves that a short walk away she can meet with young people at the Rotary funded youth centre at Oak Bay High.
Learn more about the Fired Up! For Kindness Bells Project online at firedupceramics.ca or call 250-818-4543.