Two years ago, Carrie Fox and her daughter Sophia, then 8, started a journal together. One day, they were writing about kindness and what that means.
“We realized kindness is more than just being nice, opening doors or saying ‘thank you’,” says Carrie. “It’s about taking the time to learn about different people and cultures, respecting the environment, taking care of yourself and each other… there’s so much more to it.”
Sophia decided she wanted to help other kids learn to be kind. So over the next year, she and her mother wrote a book to share a variety of ways kids can practice kindness on their own or with their friends or family.
Published in May, “Adventures in Kindness” (Mission Partners Press, 2020, $19) includes 52 activities kids can do to help their school, their family, their community and the world. Each “adventure” includes a step-by-step description of how to carry out the activity, a list of items kids will need and the amount of time and money it will require (many are free).
There are also pages where kids can record when and where they completed the adventure, who helped them, how it made them feel, what they learned and more. Full-color illustrations by Sophia’s aunt, Nichole Wong Forti, and personal notes from Sophia herself are scattered throughout the book.
The book is geared toward kids ages 7 to 12, but the Foxes, who live in Potomac, hope that readers will include their parents, younger siblings and others in their adventures.
“A lot of volunteering activities require kids to be a certain age, such as 14, to volunteer,” says Carrie. “But kids can open this book to any page and find something they can do.”
Some of the adventures are things the pair had already done with their family or with Sophia’s Girl Scout troop (Carrie is Troop Leader), such as running a race for charity and starting a family giving jar. Others are inspired by nonprofit organizations that Carrie works with as founder and CEO of the strategic communications firm Mission Partners. This includes assembling Comfort Cases for kids entering foster care and starting a Little Free Library. Many of the adventures are local to the DC area.
Now 10, Sophia has already done all but three of the adventures in the book, including organizing a book swap with friends, going on a family fitness adventure and learning how to calculate a generous tip. She hopes to complete the rest—learning how to say hello in more than 30 languages, holding a community dog wash and having a “Mix It Up at Lunch Day”—after the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Sophia’s favorite adventure from the book surprises even her mom—trying new vegetables.
“Purple carrots are really good!” Sophia says.
In keeping with the kindness theme, 10 percent of the book’s proceeds will go to organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Hope for Henry Foundation. Sophia and Carrie are also donating 100 percent of the proceeds from their limited-edition “Adventures in Kindness” notecards to Feeding America’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
The pair also hopes to build an entire community of kind kids with the free Adventures in Kindness Kids Club. Kids can sign up for the online club once they’ve completed any five adventures from the book and receive free kindness gear, quarterly notes of kindness from Sophia and Carrie and the opportunity to join a pen pal program starting this fall. In the online shop, kids can also purchase T-shirts, buttons, posters and other items that display messages of kindness (as well as the COVID-19 notecards).
Sophia’s hobbies—when the world is not dealing with a pandemic, that is—include playing baseball, dancing, reading, baking and playing with her friends and her 6-year-old sister, Kate. She also hopes to write a second book with her mom that will include ideas for kindness adventures submitted on their website by other kids. Mostly, she just hopes to inspire other kids to incorporate kindness into their daily lives.
“It’s more fun when you’re kind because you get to experience and understand more,” Sophia says. “The more kind you are, the better you feel!”
A version of this story appeared in the June-July issue of Montgomery Magazine.