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Classroom to Community

In 2009, Dafna Michaelson visited 50 states in 52 weeks. Everywhere she went, she spoke to ordinary people who were doing extraordinary things for their communities. She shared those stories via the 50 in 52 Journey, which received national media attention.

Now, through her Journey Institute, Dafna is sharing what she learned with Random Acts of Kindness Foundation members. Find great ideas for kindness learning in the classroom, using video interviews with some of the people she met, lesson plans, activities and discussion guides.

Each lesson includes a “Quick Start” box – an easy-to-follow synopsis of the lesson that will get you away from the computer and quickly working together to complete the lesson plan. Browse the list of ideas, and then click on “Read more” to see a full lesson plan.

Beverly Hills: Path to Poverty Leads to Global Kindness

Nouriel and Yaelle Cohen, California

Video Synopsis:
Many people have been affected by the country's economy. Many people have lost all they have. If you lived in Beverly Hills, had a successful business, and then lost everything, what would you do? Watch this video of an incredible couple who lived in Beverly Hills, had a successful business of their own and did lose everything, and then decided what they needed to do was simplify their lives and focus on helping other people. With modest beginnings Global Kindness now feeds, clothes, and even pays bills for people who cannot do it themselves. With plans to grow into a storefront, despite the fact that the Cohens and their six children still don't have much themselves, this couple continues to give what they do have: their time, their energy and their home. Be inspired by this couple who have little but give so much.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: 5-12

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My Name is Not Homeless

Andrea DeMink, Indiana

Video Synopsis:
Andrea DeMink is the founder of The PourHouse, a street-based outreach program in Indianapolis, Indiana. Like many outreach programs for the homeless, The PourHouse provides food, coffee, clothes… but what sets Andrea DeMink and her vision apart is that this program is about building relationships and helping people fulfill their dreams.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: 5-12

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Migrant Worker, Mom, Human Champion

Ella Ochoa, Nebraska

Video Synopsis:
Ella Ochoa is the Executive Director of the NAF Multicultural Human Development Corporation. Ella went from being a migrant worker in the fields across various states of this country to being the executive director of an organization dedicated to being an advocate for migrant workers in Nebraska. While she is still overcoming hurdles both personal and professional, watch this inspiring video of what one person can do with a little belief and encouragement and a desire to help others.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: K-12

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Growing the Urban Farmer To Bring Organic Agriculture Home

Jessie Banhazl, Massachusetts

Video Synopsis:
Jessie Banhazl is co-founder of Green City Growers in Boston, Massachusetts. Watch this interview to see how one company is changing the way people in the greater Boston area are eating by teaching them to grow their own food. You'll see how Jessie and her business partner, with creativity and passion, have built a business that helps people and restaurants become more self sufficient, for less than organic food costs at the grocery store. Be inspired by what a passion for good food and some hard work can do to move a community, a city, a state and ultimately the country forward.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: K-12

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Gangster Turns Community Builder

Mike Rosenfeld, Florida

Video Synopsis:
Mike Rosenfeld, Founder and Executive Director of Youth Expressions, is a former gang member turned counselor who discovered that what we listen to affects what we think and how we act. His knowledge led him to start Youth Expressions, a program to help youth have an outlet for expressing themselves in various ways. His program is helping build up troubled youth, strengthen community and create fresh lives.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: 9-12

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From Welfare to Role Model

Brenda Mims, New York

Video Synopsis:
At one time dependent on the city and food pantries to feed herself and her children, Brenda Mims now works full time at the Samaritan Center, feeding those who need its services. Be inspired by this video of a woman who loves what she does and is passionate about helping the people the Samaritan Center serves.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: 5-12

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Freedom Fighter, Diversity Champion

Qadir Aware, South Dakota

Video Synopsis:
Refugee-turned-immigrant Qadir Aware tells of an amazing journey and how, coming to America, he faced many challenges in his community. He was determined not to let those challenges get in his way, but instead committed to finding a way to overcome those challenges and in the process better his community and help others as they immigrate to America. Watch this video of an amazing man whose roots are steeped in a rich history of tradition but whose love for his adoptive country and the community he lives in inspired him to make his dream come true.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: 5-12

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Seeking a Cure Through Music

Lisa Ostrow, Massachusetts

Video Synopsis:
Music has always been a part of Lisa Ostrow's life, from growing up with a father who played in an orchestra, to ten years of professional instruction on the piano herself, to having three daughters who all have musical gifts. What she didn't know was how music would play such a huge role in her life after she found out her twin daughters had PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease). In 2007 Lisa released a musical CD that not only included her incredible piano playing and angelic voice but also had the whole family contributing on tracks on the album, which made it into iTunes' top 100 on the easy listening section. What makes the album even more special is that all proceeds are being donated to help find a cure for PKD. In addition, Lisa is fast becoming a spokesperson for PKD, helping educate and build awareness of a common disease that few know about. Also, she and her children are outspoken about educating people with respect to organ donation and the importance such a gift can make. A mom with a musical gift who is giving back in amazing ways to help solve the challenge of PKD, not just for her daughters but for the millions worldwide who have this disease. Oh, and if all of this were not enough, there's one other thing we forgot to mention. We'll let Lisa tell you in her own words: "I'm Lisa, and I happen to be blind."

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: 5-12

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Bundles of Love to Transitional Neighbors

Bedtime Bundles, Florida

Video Synopsis:
Meet Karen Saeks, founder of Bedtime Bundles, and her volunteers for an organization created out of need to help the children of migrant workers. Watch this video to see how these volunteers get inspired by giving in a way that helps their local community and the children in need by giving them the basics that most people take for granted.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: K-12

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From the NFL to Tackling Youth at Risk

Mao Tosi, Alaska

Video Synopsis:
Mao Tosi is a former NFL player of Samoan heritage who returned home to Alaska after illness forced him to hang up his helmet. As a young man, Mao tried to save his best friend from a life of drugs and crime by telling his college recruiter that he would only come to the school if his friend could get in, too. His friend chose not to follow Mao to college and ultimately died in prison. The impact of his friend's death and Mao’s deep caring for people led him to start AK Pride, a program to help young Alaskan dropouts get in touch with a GED and a path to a career in an area of their own interest.

Suggested for: Traditional schools, alternative programs, youth groups, community centers

Suggested grade use: K-12

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