I've mentioned this article to a number of people and without exception they all recollect this story taking social media by storm... over five years ago! A handful of them knew about the amazing inspirational journey that followed. This is a true story of courage, friendship and purpose... all resulting from a single act of kindness.
So, lets go back five years, you may recall #FindMike - the story of a manhunt stemming from a random act of kindness. The campaign reached over 300 million around the globe.
The story actually began 11 years ago. Neil was crossing Waterloo Bridge when he found his attention diverted. He noticed a man, Jonny Benjamin, sitting by the bridge. Little did he know at the time but Jonny was contemplating taking his own life. Neil had walked past but his split decision to go back and talk to Jonny not only saved Jonny's life but meant that both of their lives would be forever forged together with his act of kindness.
Six years later, Jonny decided he needed to meet and thank the man who saved him. The #FindMike manhunt was born! The campaign successfully reunited the pair. But, that was far from the end of the story...
Jonny and Neil have gone on to work tirelessly together to shine a light on Mental Health; breaking down misconceptions; eradicating the stigma; and offering real support to everyone from students to large corporations. Sharing their real story in such an honest and human way has meant they have changed lives across the world... all stemming from that single connection on Waterloo Bridge!
They have been awarded everything from a Pride of Britain award, doctorates to an MBE. They have become ambassadors for mental health charities; lead international mental health campaigns and co-founded their own charities... you name it, they have done it! The most recent being their new charity (launching this later year) "beyond shame beyond stigma", raising funds for preventative mental health and young people's mental health solutions.
As a parent to two young boys, I feel reassured that Neil and Jonny's efforts will influence my children (and millions of others) in ways they may not have imagined when they began their journey together. By educating our youngsters about mental health and eradicating the stigma, our children have the opportunity to grow up in a far more understanding, less judgemental and ultimately kinder world. For this Neil and Jonny, we celebrate you!
So, the answer to the headline question... "Can A Single Act of Kindness Change The World?" is a resounding "YES!". Every act of kindness, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, plants a seed - you may never know how your kindness has impacted someone but you can be sure the seed is growing. When nurtured, it can move mountains!
If you'd like to learn more about Jonny and Neil's new charity, please take a moment to watch their video and watch out for their official launch this year...
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