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A young boy holding the hand of a woman, going up stairs

Baby Steps to a Better World…

This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and as I think of all the random acts of kindness I’ve witnessed in my life, one experience stands out.

I had just started my graduate studies in the Computer Science department at UBC. I was on my way to some sort of networking event I think, the details of which I simply can’t remember. On my way there, I noticed a little boy (probably around 3 or 4 years old) with his father, playing outside a building. As someone who loves children, I couldn’t resist taking a quick detour, so I went up to him. The boy introduced himself as Nolan. Most people who know me will tell you that I am usually quite terrible at remembering names, but this child and his name are forever etched in my memory…

We talked, laughed, got goofy together, and then spontaneously decided to race up the dozen or so stairs of the building. We started running up the stairs together, but wanting him to win, I slowed down. I started making dramatic gestures, huffing and puffing, as he blazed ahead of me with victory in near sight. He looked back to see where I was – I cheered him on and continued acting like I couldn’t keep up – “You’re so fast Nolan! You’re going to beat me!”

Steps away from the top of the stairs, Nolan stopped as he watched me. I encouraged him to go on and finish the race, worried that I was catching up. At that moment, Nolan did something that shocked both his dad and me.

He put his little hand out towards me, grabbed mine, and cheered as we both reached the top together.

In this rat race of a world, where we often face so many of our own obstacles and celebrate as we overcome them, rarely do we turn around to see who we might be leaving behind. Nolan’s random act of kindness continues to remind me: as incredible as it feels to reach the top, success tastes so much sweeter when we get there together. He inspires me to build a more accessible world, one with equal opportunity……where no one is left behind!