Have you ever seen the film Pay it forward? It’s a beautiful movie which you should make time to watch, telling the story of a young boy who has to come up with a plan to change the world for a class assignment.
He puts this plan into action by doing three big favours for three different people. In turn these three people have to do three more favours for others, and so it continues. Rather than paying each other back, they are paying it forward. (Watch the film trailer here.)
As part of Viva’s Good Treatment Campaign, children from our networks in Bolivia have also been encouraging people to pay it forward. Over 25,000 Child Ambassadors committed to doing five acts of kindness to other children or adults, so by potentially reaching 125,000 people.
Alongside this, the children gave out homemade promise bands to act as reminders for people to then pass it on and do something nice for five others. If all 125,000 followed through that would mean that another 625,000 people received acts of kindness.
Those are big numbers. What’s even more exciting is that the children chose to give 70 per cent of the wristbands to adults and that’s what the Good Treatment Campaign is all about – children speaking up and asking adults to change their attitudes and to be more kind to children.
The children also repeated activities from previous years’ campaigns. Children paraded through streets with banners, made and distributed flyers promoting an end to abuse, met with authority figures and gave out licenses to those who committed to treat children better.
Magaly, an 11-year-old Good Treatment Ambassador, said, “I learned values to be able to help others and I many met new people. I really enjoyed going to the local authorities to give out Good Treatment Licences and that Governor Patzi made the promise to treat children well. We even appeared on RTP! [a popular Bolivian tv channel]”
A few months previously, 30 children from the six different Bolivian cities in which Viva works took part in a committee meeting where they made plans for the years’ activities and created promotional material. All the ideas came from the children themselves.
Fifteen-year-old Gabrielle says, “I enjoyed my time at the committee meeting. I really liked that they took our ideas into account for making promotional material for the campaign and that we could work as a team.
“There were sessions and workshops where we reflected on our own actions and learnt that what we do does make a difference to those around us. Since then, I realised that many of my friends have changed their attitudes and behaviour in a positive way.
“I love going out on the Good Treatment drive and to be able to educate adults so that they commit to promote the campaign with us in their homes and with their families. Although some take no notice of us, there are others that do and they celebrate us and recognise our strength and encourage us.”
Paying it forward is not something which only happens in films. Children in Bolivia are already seeing the positive impact that their actions can have on others and also learning that they have a right to be treated well.
Our hope is that, as these children grow up into adults, they will remember these messages and in turn pay it forward to their children by treating them with the love and care they deserve.