Stories for Youth

These are news posts that pertain to bringing The Games to Youth.

Love Remembers Day Coopetition – Compassion For Anaphylaxis

Worldwide “Love Remembers Day” is hosting a Compassion Games Coopetition from March 19th – 27th to honor lives lost to Food Induced Anaphylaxis.

Flowers for Anaphylaxis, a volunteer grassroots organization that offers condolences to families that have lost loved ones due to food-induced anaphylaxis, is organizing the third annual worldwide Love Remembers Day from March 19 – 27, 2016.Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.28.12 PM

Aleasa Word, CLC, CEC, founder of the program, and an advocate and educator in the food-allergy community, notes that “when loved ones are lost as a result of food allergies, it’s not fair that they become newsworthy one day and forgotten the next.”

Our Leadership Team at Compassion Games International is inspired by Aleasa’s efforts to honor the lives of those lost to anaphylaxis while amplifying a grassroots movement through the spirit of compassionate action.

We decided it was time to learn more from her about the compassion she has already spread all around the United States, Mexico, and Canada. We had the honor to interview her as she was preparing to bring this Coopetition to the world through the Compassion Games platform. We asked her a few questions about Love Remembers Day.

What inspired you to start “Love Remembers Day”?

It all started when she conceived her daughter in 2004. The first year of her life was filled with days of her baby being sick. After transitioning her daughter to cow’s milk she soon discovered her daughter at only 1 year of age  had a diagnosis of 13 different
allergies. This began to open her eyes and heart to a major problem for many families across the country. Soon after this she started a support group for families with similar allergy challenges she was having with her daughter. She has always been passionate about supporting marginalized parts of communities.

There are 15 million people that have food allergies in the US and 6 million of them are children. There are about 300 – 600 ofScreen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.28.32 PMthese people yearly that are losing their lives because of allergic reactions. Food allergy Epinephrine medication on average costs $400-$600 for two injectors. There are many states that have ambulances, prisons, nurses stations in schools, and colleges that do not have epinephrine accessible to individuals with emergency reactions. As she realized this reality she eventually started Love Remembers Day with her daughter in 2014. She wanted to honor lives that have been lost because of food allergies. Now in 2016 she has grown this movement from locally in Delaware to many communities in US, Mexico, and Canada. Her daughter makes bracelets of honor and they send cards to families where a precious life was taken. “We have to do more than this. We can’t continue to just talk about it. I must actually talk to families with these issues.”

The theme for 2016 is “Compassion for Anaphylaxis” and that is what prompted the collaboration  with the Compassion Games. Since  launching this Compassion Games Coopetition,  she has confirmed teams from as far away as Dubai getting involved!

What are some of the ways that teams are getting involved?

The symbolic color for food allergy awareness is teal. One way for communities to participate in the Coopetition is  to “Ignite The Night” and have teal colored lights and candles lit at night to honor the lives that have been lost.  

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.28.27 PMThere are also teams in communities that are building a list of compassionate doctors. These doctors care about food allergy awareness and want to take a stand for better regulations and laws.

There are children 12- 15 years old organizing kindness team efforts in healthy competition for the most compassionate impact points.  Kindness activities might include  writing letters to people that have lost loved ones through food allergies, wearing teal bracelets,  making a teal kindness chain at school, and giving a anaphylaxis medication coupon to a family in need.

How is the Compassion Games helping “Love Remembers Day”?

The spirit of Compassion Games brings positive energy, kindness, and hope to the movement . We want people that have loved Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.28.18 PMones that have died to remember the good times and increase kindness in action. This is an example of taking the experience of grief and sadness and channeling that energy into making a positive impact and helpful change.  We want to help families that are dealing with food allergy challenges to know they are not alone. There are resources being made available to teams and sub teams and by focusing on this challenge together we are combining our stories and amplifying compassion at a global level.

Do you have any awards and incentives for teams to win the Compassion Games?

No matter what happens, everyone wins by participating. Love Remembers Day will be  two special awards at the end of the Coopetition;  The Trailblazer Award & The Legacy Award.

If you are interested in being a team for this “Love Remembers Day” Coopetition check out Aleasa Word’s website here! Also you can find their active Facebook page and Twitter handle here too!

Being Human Ain’t Easy: Unexpected Lessons from His Holiness the 17th Karmapa

We surely can’t complain about the mystery and thrill of being alive. Yet, regardless of one’s walk of life, it just isn’t easy being human.

downloadLike the tilted spinning of the Earth traveling through the Milky Way, having balance in one moment does not necessarily mean we will have it in the next. Life is messy. We are each challenged by the struggles of maintaining harmony in our relationships, by the incessant demand of finances and making a living, and of nurturing the physical and mental health of ourselves and those we love. We each desire meaning, belonging, and purpose in our lives.

These challenges in life, in their various forms and magnitudes, are a given. It is how we respond – not react – to life’s challenges that truly matter, transmuting them into all the more reason to love harder and be more compassionate toward others and toward ourselves, knowing we all suffer in one way or another.

Unfortunately, this is far easier to say and know than to do.Karmapa Image

Which is perhaps why thousands of people flocked like weary birds to Seattle Center on May 9th, to receive a drink of the cool, spring water that is the presence and teachings of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. He is, after all, a shining example of compassion and love in a tumultuous world.

What we got, however, was something far different than expected. Something, I believe, that was far better.

First of all, His Holiness had a cold, leaving him visibly and admittedly drained. To top this off, Seattle was the last stop on his journey of events over the course of two months, which was extremely exhausting in itself.

Buddha or not, I thought, the Karmapa is human. This lesson, which had only just begun, was the greatest gift he could have given us. Here was a moment for us to have deep compassion for him. Curiously and unexpectedly, it wasn’t the last.

After forty-five minutes of his teachings about compassion from the Kagyu Buddhist tradition, a young panel of change-makers sat on stage with the Karmapa and asked him, each in turn, some very difficult questions.

One such question was from Jennifer Hotes, a young woman activist from a nonprofit called Love City Love which creates open spaces for artists to create art in community for one another for the sake of joy. She asked him:

“How do we have fun without using it as a way to escape from the suffering in the world, as a way to remind ourselves of the positive things in life?” She paused, almost forgetting to ask him the next part of her question with a sheepish but twinkling smile on her face. “And also, what do you do to have fun?”

The moderator quickly finished translating her question with a smile himself, and the Karmapa’s eyebrows went up in surprise. He put his hand to his chin in deep thought. He was, as clear as day, stumped! The audience laughed with him. To our surprise, here is some of what he said:

“It’s important in life, to not take things so seriously all the time. It’s important to remember to enjoy life to celebrate the good things… I remember when I was a young boy, my family would celebrate Losar, the Lunar New Year of Tibet. I remember that I would get so excited the day before that my siblings and I couldn’t sleep… We still honor Losar, but now I must follow set itineraries, the day is full of ceremony and ritual that I must fulfill. Sometimes I wish I could just lay in bed and sleep through it… As for what I do for fun now, I don’t know. I’ll have to give this more thought.”

As the last words of this were translated, the Karmapa unexpectedly began to speak again, which was translated to us once more:

“I really enjoy music and the arts. When I have time, I like to paint and make music. The arts are very important. That is all I have to say on the matter.”

It was an astonishing revelation, I think, for all of us. Quite simply, the Karmapa didn’t experience much of what it was like to simply play, to have fun.

This appears to be a common issue for everyday people and change-makers alike. We often feel guilty regarding the moments of joy in our lives when we know there is so much suffering in the world. Yet, play is an essential human need that allows us to connect with one another, building authentic relationships that can lead to sustainable action rooted in compassion. When we don’t take time to honor what is good and beautiful in life, we burn out. We lose our sense of wholeness. We actually become less effective at making positive change happen.

It is actually this concern that lead to us being invited to the event with the Karmapa at Seattle Center, to represent the CompassionCompassion Games Updated Logo for Shift Network Games and teach attendees about it. The Compassion Games are a social tool designed to ignite, amplify, and catalyze compassionate action in communities around the world. By infusing the power of playfulness and compassion with the fun of friendly competition, the Games offer a unique way to strive together to serve each other, our own personal well-being, and the Earth.

Experiencing the challenges that nonprofits face with finding financial support to grow and scale, the struggle can sometimes lead us to doubt the importance of play and the idea that you can use play to build the capacity of communities to be more compassionate. As we are currently fundraising to expand the Games to respond to a growing demand, this weighed heavily on our team’s hearts that evening.

Yet, once we began to speak with people about the Games, most people went from curiosity or confusion to an understanding grin on their face. “Team Seattle needs your help!” we would say humorously with feigned exacerbation. “The Mayor of Louisville said they were the most compassionate city in the world and would be so until kindliving1-300x245proven otherwise! In fact, he said they were so compassionate they would come here and help us beat them!” At that point, most people usually laughed and wanted to learn more. Obviously, no one can lose the Compassion Games, though they seem to tap into an innate human desire to want to play together, to do the heavy lifting in the world with a lighter heart. By doing so, the Games can help raise the capacity of compassion in our lives and our communities in ways we otherwise wouldn’t feel inspired, or believe were possible, to do.

This may be why the Compassion Games worked so well in a women’s prison, where for the first time ever there were eleven days of no violence while the Games were played. Or why they are so excitingly received in educational settings, where children can “cooperate to compete” to make their schools safer and warmer places to learn, and to experience compassion first hand.

We were feeling quite relieved about the reception of the Compassion Games at the Karmapa’s event, but then it happened: one of the change-makers of the panel on-stage, a young lady named Rekeda Roundtree from Roots of Empathy, asked another challenging question:

“It seems that competition is at the root of many social ills that we as a society face today. Can you tell us how competition creates barriers between people, how it is a separation that prevents us from connecting compassionately together to collaborate and make change?”

kl-stargirl02i-fish0814As an organization that aimed to use friendly competition as a kind of “culture hack” to get people excited about making a difference (the latin root for competition – “competere” – means “to strive together”), this question made our hearts skip a beat. Our team looked at each other with playfully worried smiles, holding our breath as we anticipated what would come next. Depending on his answer, we would either proudly stay, or try to make a break for it before mobs of outraged compassion-seekers descended on us.

The moderator asked if it was okay to inverse the question. He asked, “So, can I ask the Karmapa if fishastroheartpplcompetition can be used in a way that is positive, as a way to make positive social change?” The young woman, once again, reiterated her original question regarding competition’s more negative side, how it enhances social ills rather than alleviates them.

Here is what the Karmapa said:

“Competition is very pervasive in the world today, connected to many of the activities that lead to problems. Even when people are not engaged in competition – competition with distinct victors or those who are defeated – people may bring the energy of competition to their everyday lives, like in an argument and the need to be right at the expense of others. But, I think competition can have a positive aspect to it as well. Competition can be used as a motivator to better oneself, not to beat others but to compete with oneself to become more compassionate. In this way competition can be used to make oneself stand out, but in a positive way.”

All at once, we let our breaths out in a sigh of relief and laughed; there wouldn’t be any compassion mobs coming for us today. As it turns out, even the Karmapa believed that friendly competition could be used as a social force for good.

Once, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama said this when asked a similar question:

“Competition used to put others down: not good. Competition used to bring everybody up: that is very good.”

We were grateful that His Holiness the 17th Karmapa shared with us his down-to-earth human side. It allowed us, I believe, to see ourselves in him, not as an idol or state of perfection that we are not, but as a person like the rest of us. It made room for greater compassion toward ourselves in our own hardships, mishaps, and imperfections. Life is full of them, that’s for certain, but it’s easier to know that we are in them together, that even our suffering profoundly connects us all.

As for play and having fun: may we all enjoy the gifts that life has to offer us more often, not as an escape, but as a celebration to rejuvenate our spirits. And may the Compassion Games touch countless more lives by reminding us how to change the world by having fun, by reminding us of the child within us all.

We each desire to see the world become a more kind, safe, and loving place. It is much more rewarding when we do this together.

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Story Written by Compassion Games Storyteller Joey Crotty
with support from Compassion Games Team Members Lesa Walker, Sande Hart, and Jon Ramer

3.7 Million March: An Urgent Call to Rally for Unity & Peace

Dear Friends and Allies of Compassion,

The world is stirring. Every now and then an event occurs that shocks us, and with it appears an opening for something new to Paris Ralliesemerge. Right now, we are at such a moment. The 3.7 million people who marched in the streets of France – who locked arms with our world’s
leaders – are what French officials are saying was the largest street demonstration in the country’s history. And they weren’t protesting the attacks they were rallying for unity.

“I’m fed up with all the hatred in the world. I can’t stand people hating each other. More than just free expression, I want people to live together and to accept each other, even if they are different,” said Edith Gaudin, a teacher in Paris.

More than ever we need to create and live in cultures of compassion that revolutionoftheheart7-fish0212take us outside our comfort zones, into our stretch zones, and allow us to experience empathy and compassion directly. In fact, this is what the Compassion Games were created for, and it just so happens that this year the Compassion Games is partnering with UN sponsored World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) (February 1st -7th).

One of the world leaders who marched on the streets in Paris is King Abdullah II from Jordan. In 2010, the King proposed a World Interfaith Harmony Week to the UN, a week “when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are.” The UN unanimously approved, and now each year the first week of February is aimed to promote harmony and collaboration between people of all faiths (and none).

kl-stargirl01a-fish0814We are partnering with faith, interfaith and Indigenous leaders to light a spark of creativity and innovation, to inspire groups around the world to get engaged and to make the good we are capable of known. This includes a seven day Compassion Games “coopetition” starting February 1st, a 10-Year Solar Challenge called for by First Nations, and $50,000 in prize money sponsored by King Abdullah II.

Let’s not retreat from this moment. Let’s lean forward, open our hearts and hands and come together in unprecedented, unified solidarity and action!

 

1. Learn more about the World Interfaith Harmony
Week Coopetition here

2. Read more about the WIHW Prize Monies for participating groups here

3. Spread the word! Share this story to challenge family, friends, and your communities to play in World Interfaith Harmony Week. Experience the joy of building solidarity, cooperation, and bridges of peace and harmony!

At this unique moment in time we need to clarify and reaffirm religion’s role in our lives as a beacon of hope. Religion at its best is kl-stargirl02i-fish0814a hearth for the human spirit. In its myriad of expressions, religion can help us connect with something greater than ourselves, to encourage us to reach out and to get to know the “others” in our lives. It inspires us to serve all people for the greater good that exists within and among all of us, to find love and compassion in the seemingly most improbable places, in places where once there was only hate. Yet these are the places most desperate for peace.

Let us be that peace.

In Fierce Unity and Compassion,

Compassion Games International
World Interfaith Harmony Week
URI (United Religions Initiative)
The Guibord Center
Interfaith Youth Core
Dalai Lama Fellows
Compassionate Seattle
NICO (Northwest Interfaith Community Outreach)
Silicon Valley Interreligious Council
Four Worlds International Institute
Compassionate California
I am Jerusalem
S.A.R.A.H. (Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope)
Scarboro Missions
First Nations Solar
Interfaith Council of Central Orange County

Films tell stories of compassion at Seattle event

 Submitted by What’s Good 206

If you let a community tell its own stories, what do you hear?

During Seattle’s Compassion Games, independent filmmakers brought us stories of a neighborhood coming together around a community garden, a community formed around an all-night diner, and a community of dancers that became family for a Seattle newcomer.

 

These and about a dozen other films were shown during an event called, “A Story Runs Through It, ” which was hosted by Seattle International Film Festival during Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest.

Scott Macklin, event organizer and filmmaker,  said the easy availability of technology has returned the power of story-telling to the community.

“I can make a life-changing, world-altering film with just this,” he said, holding up a smart phone.

“But the fundamental key then is still story. As a filmmaker, how do we suspend our own story so we can listen to and enter into (another’s story),  and in that… create the possibility of cross cultural understanding (that becomes) a way to  nurture, build and create significant change and social justice?”

Video produced by What’s Good 206,  Seattle’s source for youth driven media and information.

Help plant a garden of compassion at Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club

By Jon Ramer

 

The Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club needs you.

Dedicated school chef Patrice Freeman shops the sales to feed her hungry troupe, but she has a dream, to feed her boys and girls with fresh fruit and vegetables from a bountiful school garden. She has the space, and she’s looking for donations of soil and the materials to create eight to 10 large planters for the garden and fill them with rich planting soil for the 2013 spring and summer.

The club is budget challenged. On the day of our visit, we dropped off a ream of copy paper because the club had run out. But it serves a great need. And now it needs our help.

 

‘Kindness School’ builds strong academics with compassion

 Submitted by What’s Good 206

Strong academics are a byproduct of a good school.

That’s the model for Puget Sound Community School, which operates on the premise that students learn best when they are supported in their passions. And yes, they do take classes like pre-calculus and physics.

Teaching compassion and kindness are an essential part of that education, says founder Andy Smallman, who founded the school 19 years ago with his wife Melinda Shaw.

Hear students and teachers talk about this amazing school.

 

 

Hosted by John Ecklof
What’s Good 206 is Seattle’s youth media source.

Hope and pain through a social worker’s eyes

By Martha Hopler

As I head to the home of J. I feel a sense of urgency today is the day.  Today is the day I have waited for, for some time.  I have waited for the moment she is ready to head to re-hab.  I am very aware of the choices I have made to allow her to continue to care for her children while she chooses  to use drugs and alcohol to escape the realities of her difficult life.

As the social worker I live in the ever present tension of what is right for her kids and what she wants….  She on her own has finally said, “Yes I will go.”

I am grateful, for I am aware, that soon I would not have had the choice to place the children in protective custody and that would have been a new level of pain for all involved.  In this case, mom is making that very difficult decision,  and I have assisted in placing the two younger children with a family they are very familiar with and a family that mom trusts. She will start with detox and there she can have none of her children with her.  The older son was supposed to be at the grandmother’s home.  I am here to pick up J. and take her to what is hopefully going to be the beginning of new.

As I enter the home, the first thing I am aware of is the older son, R., sitting on the steps. He is 14 years old and cannot stay in the home alone.  In my head I start thinking of my options.  I say, “You will have to come with us.  I am taking your mom to the hospital.”

In reality I am buying time to figure out next steps.  I cannot leave him in the house alone.  He says quite loudly, “NO.”  I pass him on the stairs as I go to find him mom who is calling to me.  And then he states, “You do not  give a shit about me.” I stop and ask, “Why would you say that?”  He says “Because I am a black male.”  My heart breaks and my brain says, “Oh no, you didn’t….. I know this is a truth grounded in him for his whole life ….and it is a challenge to me — Will you be like every white social worker or person in the system and pass him by? Oh what to do?”

The next actions were not planned. They did not fit the “social work hand book,” nor would I brag of such an action in the next staff meeting, for it might be viewedas a very  bad idea.  I went to the pay phone passing several men doing drug business.  If I leave R. at the house he will be in this business soon I think…..he may already be.

I call my office hoping to connect with my supervisor who can give me some “good ideas” of the next thing to do. She is not there.  I cannot take mom to rehab and leave R. in the house. I then remember that due to R. not going to school there is a bench warrant for his arrest. I call the police. Again was not thinking this was the best action but I was just working toward the goal of getting him to leave the house.  The police come. R. comes with me to the van. He has calmed down, he has stopped yelling at me. He is terrified and rightly so.  A woman and a man get out of the van. Two police officers, looking like those  you have seen on TV,  tell him that they have the van, so they can arrest him if it comes to that.

The man grabs R. and starts to throw him up against the van.  I lost it again, not my finest moment, but no one was going to hurt R., that was not why I called the police.  I forgot for a moment that not all who are in power want the best for R., and he does represent men who have been portrayed as scary and dangerous. I grab the police offer by the shirt and say. “Do not hurt him. I called you but I am the one to deal with him.” He lets go of R. and turns to listen to me. I explained what I was needing and he  talked to me and the woman went and checked if the warrant was in the system.  It was not….I said thanks for your time and help they left and R. got in my car so I could take him mom to detox.

 

Looking for compassionate solutions to gun violence

Submitted by What’s Good 206

Why should you care about gun violence?

“It has no race, no creed, no age barriers. If it hasn’t affected you yet, it will if it continues.”

Stark words from one man interviewed in this array of community voices recorded at an anti-gun violence rally at Seattle’s Martin Luther King Memorial Park.

“It needs to be talked about among your family and friends,” says a police officer.

“We have to work to get the community out to say we’ve had enough of the gun violence and to mentor young men and older men and women on how to go through the healing process of having a son been a perpetrator and wrap our arms around them and say there’s healing,” says a pastor.

Listen closely. What you are hearing are solutions.

 

What’s Good 206 is Seattle’s source for youth driven media and information.

Smarter & more compassionate schools? Yes we can!


Submitted by What’s Good 206

Build more compassionate schools by combining students of different ages in the classroom, and fully integrating schools, says a 17-year-old high school senior who has written a book advocating overhaul of the educational system.

In this video produced by What’s Good 206, Nikhil Goyal also advises educators to start treating students respectfully and invite them into the conversation about their education.

Directed by
AUSTIN WILLIAMS
Hosted by
STARLA SAMPACO
Edited by
ALYSSA PIRAINO

Operation Compassion: How to radically change the story

Submitted by What’s Good 206

It was a chance encounter with a homeless man that that led University of Washington student Daniel Nguyen to start Operation Compassion last year.
It began when an apparently homeless man, a regular Daniel had seen for weeks, boarded his bus and asked him for spare change.
Like many of us, Daniel’s first response was, “I don’t have any.”
But it didn’t end there, and what Daniel Nguyen found out about Reggie, the man on the bus, blew away his preconceived notions of community and launched him on a life-changing crusade.
Warning: this story might do the same for you.

The spotlight is on Daniel Nguyen, a UW sophomore who started operation compassion.
Hosted by Kumar Nessenbaum
Directed by Austin Williams
Edited by Austin Williams & Alyssa Piraino
Camera operator: Austin Williams & Alyssa Piraino

For more information on What’s Good 206, see the website www.whatsgood206.org
Daniel’s blog can be found here.