A locally developed kindness app has reached market just in time for Christmas — as the old slogan goes — though timing of the release was more by default than design.
“We thought, ‘What a perfect opportunity to have this app in parents’ hands,’ ” said Natalie Peace, a Kamloops entrepreneur and a partner in developing the concept.
Called Club Kindness, the software application is targeted toward children aged six to 12, but it’s intended for use with adult guidance, she explained.
“It’s a tool for parents and teachers to work with kids,” Peace said. “It’s not the kind of thing you hand over to kids. This is for parents who want to spark a conversation around kindness and it arms them with a tool that starts that conversation.”
Peace is the former owner of Booster Juice — she has since sold the company and begins teaching business at TRU in the new year — where the idea for the app originated. With former employee Carrie Neal, she started a project called 22 Days of Kindness four years ago to engage employees in community service.
The 22-day time frame is based on the observation that it takes 21 days of positive reinforcement to establish good habits.
“We put that 22-day challenge out to the community and thousands of people accepted the challenge,” she recalled. “It was so strong that we knew we were onto something.”
An article in Psychology Today inspired them to go global with what had been strictly local. The article cited that being kind to other people earns children acceptance among peers, and that well-liked tweens exhibit more positive, less bullying behaviours when they become teens.
“This finding was the icing on the cake that motivated us to take what we had already learned through hands-on trial and error, and share it with a much larger group of young people. That is how Club Kindness, the App, came to life.”
Enlisting the technical help of Jason Wassing of Sweetwater Media Inc. and Andrew Challenger, Peace and Neal began developing the product with expectations of bringing it to market earlier this year. However, there were some technical issues to work out and Club Kindness only reached the App Store on Dec. 6.
“This is just the beginning.”
It’s an auspicious beginning, though, with the product available in 155 countries. It’s designed for both Apple (iPod, iPhone and iPad) and Android platforms for $3.99.
Through the app, kids are engaged in a kindness challenge over 22 days. They can choose a daily mission representing one of seven values — courage, helpfulness, friendliness, leadership, gratitude, thoughtfulness and generosity. They are prompted to answer questions on the each act and receive encouragement.
Kind deeds are tracked on a map of the world at the website Clubkindness.com. That helps kids appreciate the impact of their deeds and that kindness exists all over.
“This isn’t just ‘clean your room,’ this is engaging their spirit and creativity and making it fun.”
They wanted to make it more like a game than a chore while encouraging interaction with parents.
“Which is what kindness should be about,” Peace said. “It’s about that place of joy.”
A TRU graduate who was named as its young entrepreneur in residence while completing her master’s degree, Peace starts teaching in the school of business and economics in January.