Random acts of kindness can truly brighten someone’s day. Whether it be a simple smile, lending a helping hand, or offering kind words, little actions can make a big difference.

Sixth-grader Taya Kirstine from Belle Fourche has grown up with an awareness for others, and now she’s spreading the impact it can make in our communities to others. This summer, her 4-H project includes a public presentation about the problem of judgment and a solution so easy, anyone can help.

Taya is the oldest of four, involved in countless activities, and has a love for people – especially kids. This passion for others has evolved over time, with the encouragement her mom Chelsy leaves with her and her siblings every morning before school: “Be kind. And no tunnel vision!”

Having tunnel vision is easy, and something we have all become very good at. We dive into our own lives without watching out for others, noticing where they are in their day, and how we can help make it better. This is what sparked Taya’s interest in taking the Sharpie Challenge last year.

Jordann Foland – a Texas college student helping a church in Belle Fourche – started the Sharpie Challenge with the homeless population in her hometown. Catching the trend on social media, Jordann encouraged Taya to try it in her own community to see the outcome.

“It really changed a lot of people,” Taya said with excitement. “Friends, people in my class, people at church, and even strangers – they all participated and it really helped me learn to judge less and get rid of tunnel vision.”

Walking up to someone with a piece of cardboard and a Sharpie, Taya would ask the person to write down one thing they believe others think about them. Then, on the other side of the cardboard, she would have them write something they would like others to know – the truth about them. The responses she collected were impactful not only for her learning to see others where they are, but to the people she talked to.

This summer, her Sharpie Project is evolving into a public presentation she will be giving for a community service 4-H initiative focused on kindness and serving others.

“It helps you see in God’s view rather than the world’s eyes. The world can be terrible, and you don’t know what others are going through. We all have worries and fears! You don’t need to exclude people. Just be nice.”

“I’m incredibly proud of her,” said her mom Chelsy. “Our world can be very selfish, so we make it a priority to push a love of people in our house. It is cool to see Taya and her siblings take on the initiative for themselves.”

Taking a few extra minutes out of your day to say hello to someone on the sidewalk, helping someone load their groceries, or even lending a listening ear can turn around a stranger’s day. Taya is spreading the word of kindness to her community, and you can continue to initiate in yours.

Be kind. No tunnel vision. And help those in need.