The third visit in our Texas Kindness Tour was meeting a very special student named Jet Stream Jax. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recognize his name from my Remixing Relevance post in October 2017 where I shared about his community of Friendswood, Texas receiving catastrophic damage from Hurricane Harvey and his call-to-action to help rebuild school playgrounds in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Maybe you shared in the joy of my May 2018 post titled A Jet Stream of Kindness where our students virtually connected with Jax over Facetime to see him enjoying his new playground and asking questions about his journey.
Perhaps you read about him in Chapter 3 of my new book, A Passion for Kindness: Making the World a Better Place to Lead, Love, and Learn where you learned more about kindness rocks and how they can heal hurting hearts.
If this is the first time you have heard the name Jet Stream Jax, you need to watch his “Kind Coins for Hurricane Relief” YouTube video right now and listen to his story. It’s compelling. Heart-wrenching. Inspiring. Then you will know exactly why I chose to include him in my book and wanted to meet him in person.
Barbara Gruener, author of What’s Under Your Cape? Superheroes of the Character Kind, was Jax’s elementary school counselor. In the fall of 2017, she tagged me in a tweet sharing his Kind Coins video, which ended up being the kick-off lesson for our year-long kindness initiative last school year. Throughout the year, we thought of Jax and his school community as we collected coins and strengthened our compassion for a boy we had never met.
Then the day arrived where meeting him was no longer a wish, but a reality.
Barbara and I planned to arrive at his school after dismissal, which gave us time to trek back to town following our visit to Todd Nesloney’s school. We met in the front office with formal introductions, where I presented him with a signed copy of my book, showing him the section I had included about his kindness advocacy.
I asked if he would autograph my book, too, and he carefully penned his initials on the page. (I have one copy of my book as an official “autograph book” where I’m gathering signatures of those who are mentioned throughout the pages.)
After a short walk through his school building, he led us to his school’s playground, which was actually an obstacle course complete with a timer.
Jax ran through the obstacle course as his mom, sister, and district representatives watched from the wall. I had so much fun recording him as navigated each of the challenges, mastering the entire run with a time of 40 seconds. He then turned to me and said, “Your turn!”
Last year, when Jax connected with our classes, he offered an open invitation to our class: “If you’re ever in Texas, you can run the course and try to beat my time.” Here I was, in person, for a once in a lifetime opportunity – to become a kid again and enjoy the playground our students helped to build with their donations.
When a student invites you to share in their joy, there is no other answer but, “Yes!”
I gave it my best effort with Jax and his sister cheering along the way. I will admit that my speed as a middle-aged, mom of three, lagged a bit behind Jax, but I was pretty impressed with my time of 52 seconds. (The videos of our obstacle course runs make me smile at the memories!)
After exploring the playground a bit more, Jax led us to their Playful Hearts Peace Garden where he and Barbara searched for the kindness rock created for my school.
Our visit concluded with a few formal photos and a brief interview with the communication specialist in Friendswood Independent School District, then we gathered at the front of the school to take a few more photos together. It was a joyful reconnection for Barbara and Jax, and I had the privilege of meeting another amazing kindness cultivator in our world.
The following week our visit made the front page news in an article written by Karolyn Gephart for the Friendswood Reporter News and was spotlighted by Friendswood ISD on their Twitter and Facebook pages. So exciting!
Never doubt the power you have to put good in this world. Whether you are a nine-year-old storm chaser from Texas or a forty-six-year-old woman from a town that grows tomatoes, your words and actions matter.
Keep sharing your stories. Keep doing kind things for others. Keep being the person that someone else needs you to be.
Each day is a new day to inspire!
In March, I traveled to Houston, Texas as part of my R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence, the first of several trips I will complete this year and next. My proposal, “Cultivating Kindness for Global Impact” takes me to various locations in the United States and Canada to dive into learning opportunities that align with my passion for kindness. One of the perks of these trips is meeting Kindness Cultivators, many of whom I spotlight in my book, A Passion for Kindness: Making the World a Better Place to Lead, Love, and Learn. This week and next I will be sharing stories from my journey so you can “travel” with me, too!