Brinley Walters 8th grader at Norterra Canyon School decided it would be fun to list 20 things she loves about her closest friends and give them this list. Her friends really liked receiving that list, as it made them feel good. So, in return, they made a list about Brinley and gave it back to her and she was able to experience that good feeling for herself. Then, one Sunday, while spending time with her friends from church, Brinley realized that she always felt so good around these positive, encouraging young ladies and she wished she had that same feeling while at school.
This gave Brinley the idea to take matters into her own hands at school and pass on some positive and encouraging words to people that she felt might need that uplifting moment for one reason or another…. And with that, “Project Encouragement” was born. Brinley decided that she would anonymously sneak a typed letter listing 10 positive attributes about that particular person, into his/her backpack when he or she was not looking. Her hope was that this letter would brighten their day and let the person know that he/she is valuable, important, and worthy of smiling and laughing. Brinley believes that more people need to smile and laugh each and every day.
Initially, Brinley placed anonymous letters in the backpacks of her core group of friends. Then, she branched out to secretly giving her letters to people that she believed needed friends. Eventually, Brinley was ready to give out even more letters to even more deserving recipients. That is where her friend, Ace came into the picture. Brinley confided in Ace about “Project Encouragement” and together they sought out those in need of encouragement, typed the letters, and went about secretly delivering them. Their method of delivery evolved as fellow students became more aware of the letters. First, the letters were covertly placed in backpacks, then on desks, but at the risk of looking “stalkerish,” Brinley and Ace decided the best plan of action would be to give the letters to the teachers, who in turn would pass out the letters to the proper addressees.
Having been on the receiving end of a bully, Brinley knows that one nasty word or action can ruin one’s self esteem. Therefore, Brinley is working hard to do the exact opposite, as she is hoping that her letters of encouragement will build up one’s self esteem, thus making people happy and brightening their day! In fact, one boy in her class gave Brinley a hard time about the letters, until he received one. Brinley said that once he got his own letter, listing his attributes, he changed his tune and was “glowing like a Christmas Tree!” When the students receive these letters, they “get really happy, it changes their mood and attitude and they give that positive feeling right back.”
Brinley’s main goal is to show that 8th graders can be good people that are happy and feel good about themselves without having to follow the crowd or a clique. Each letter ends with a message to “pass it on and encourage others,” as Brinley hopes that eventually she and Ace will not be the only ones doing this and that her remarkable vision will cross over into as many grades as possible. What a magnificent concept, yet such a simple one at heart; to simply be kind to one another. A lesson we should all remember every single day.