Maddison Brooks says she likes to ‘see people’s smiles and how happy they are.’ (Swikar Oli/ News staff)

Vancouver Island student spreading happiness

Langford 11-year-old turns a class assignment into a passion project to spread kindness

As far as Jason Chan is concerned, when it comes to being kind, Maddison Brooks goes the extra mile whenever she can.

Chan, a sixth-grade teacher at Spencer Middle School, said Brooks’ social studies project is “a good example of a student going above and beyond what is expected of them.”

The project, which encouraged students to make a difference in their own world in whichever way they can, empowered Brooks to spread kindness in her community in several different ways.

Over the years, students have raised money for charities with bottle drives and bake sales as part of the project. Brooks chose a much broader goal: making people happy.

At her mother’s suggestion, Brooks helped her neighbours shovel the driveway, and then did five more during a heavy snow week.

“I started out by doing little things, like I played with my upstairs neighbour’s dog because the upstairs neighbour couldn’t go outside because it’s too cold,” she said.

“He ripped apart my hat because he’s just so excited because he loves snow,” she said with a laugh.

Brooks asked some kids who were stuck inside if they wanted to come out and play. Not everyone said yes, but a couple of them agreed, she said.

“Now some of those kids are some of my best friends, which is nice,” Brooks added.

With her mom’s help, Brooks also baked some cookies and delivered them to firefighters. She walked around her neighbourhood to pick up any garbage she could find and ended up with two bags full.

“She just loves, I think, the feeling of giving,” Chan remarked.

Brooks has been giving treats to her class, such as gift bags on Valentine’s Day and Halloween and cookies and cupcakes for Christmas and Easter “for as long as I can remember,” she said.

“I like how much they enjoy it and their reactions to it makes me happy,” Brooks noted.

“I make trail mix for my teacher and he loves it,” she added.

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“Valentine’s Day was extra special because she actually went to the dollar store and used her own money and bought every single student hand made gift bags,” Chan said.

The project was designed to inspire students to look outside their own lives, at how children are treated in other parts of the world, and highlighted the wonderful things other kids who are their age have done. “Everyone did their part,” Chan said, referring to his students.

Although Brooks faces challenges like many students her age, Chan said, he applauded her knowing kids are capable of “making positive change.” And local kids, it seems, have caught on.

When Brooks stood in front of the class to make her final presentation, “everyone was silent,” Chan said.

“They were just amazed, like, they couldn’t believe that she had done all of these things.”

swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com

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