World Kindness Day is coming up on November 13th, 2019, and we’re so excited to share in the celebrations this year! One group doing amazing things is Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project. We were so inspired by this family’s work in the world (and their exciting World Kindness Day venture) that we just had to share their story.
Jordyn is 18 years old and has autism. Instead of living filled with worry about her future, Jordyn’s parents, Ben and Jackie, set out to create opportunity for Jordyn by promoting inclusion and kindness towards everyone. They didn’t realize that, what started as a summer project, would soon become a thriving business; one that would bring people together through a shared mission with each and every purchase.
Their idea was simple: design a shirt with a kind message as a project to teach Jordyn job skills. She could help with shirt sales, packaging and shipping; skills that would open doors for her one day.
Soon shirts were designed and ready for purchase. Jordyn and her brother, Hudson, each had their own featured shirt for sale with the message “Be Kind To Everyone” proudly printed on every one. It was the summer of 2018 and the goal was to sell 40 shirts. Since then, Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project has sold over 35,000 shirts nationwide!
Jordyn’s mother, Jackie, was kind enough to offer a few words on the impact that this opportunity has had on Jordyn and the Be Kind to Everyone community at large. Jackie explains that Jordyn “rolls each shirt, adds a wristband and signs a thank you card.” Jackie goes on to share that she records videos of Jordyn working, illustrating task modifications in an effort to inspire others to promote inclusion and opportunity for their own children or students. “We want people to start looking at individuals with disabilities and think ‘what can they do’ vs ‘what can’t they do.’”
Amazingly enough, this dream is slowly but surely coming true, as the Be Kind to Everyone story ripples out across the country. People from all over the states are reaching out to Jordyn and her family, sharing their gratitude. Jackie noted one instance where a principle in Iowa “recorded a video to thank Jordyn for inspiring kindness in his school.” Others still, have gone out of their way to connect with Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project through their facebook page. Glen from Colorado writes, “It’s amazing what wearing the shirt does for the person wearing it. I feel myself acting happier and nicer. I was in Las Vegas this past weekend and wore the (Be Kind to Everyone) shirt. I found myself wishing people a blessed day, saying hello and smiling more often… Thanks Jordyn, for making ME a better person and having such a positive impact on my life.” Jackie states, “ It’s incredible. When I thought of the idea for the shirt, I never thought of the impact it would have when people wear it… that’s been really fun to see.”
With the impressive growth and influence of Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project, we were very curious to learn about Jordyn and her family’s vision for the project’s future. Jackie explained that the hope is to one day hire others with special needs, offering them the same opportunity that Jordyn has been given. She states, “We want to continue to inspire people to realize that kindness has the power to change the world… we all have the power to make a difference.”
In an effort to promote continued conversation around kindness and inclusion, Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project has decided to celebrate World Kindness Day 2019 a little differently. From the belief that kindness should be practiced year round, Jordyn and her family will be sending 15 ‘Be the I in Kind’ banners to schools and businesses across the country.
Jordyn’s mom explains, “We want them to take pictures and use (the banner) as a tool for talking about the importance of being kind (to everyone). After they have used the banner for a week, we want them to sign the back of it with their school or business name, city, state and the dates they held the banner. Then they pass it on to the next school or business of their choosing. That school or business keeps it for a week and does the same. We call it a combo between Flat Stanley and a chain letter.”
We’re so excited to follow along the ‘Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project’ World Kindness Day Journey! We can’t wait to watch the banners move from place to place throughout the year. What’s even more exciting is the kind actions that will likely be inspired as a result of raising awareness around kindness and inclusion nationwide. If you’d like to follow the traveling ‘Be the I in Kind’ banners on your own, give @summershirtproject a follow on Instagram and Facebook. And who knows… a traveling banner might even show up in your own home town!