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Chester County Press

Kennett Square to be 'happy town' on March 20

03/18/2015 10:19AM ● By Richard Gaw
When was the last time you held the door open for a stranger, or paid it forward at the coffee line? When was the last time you thanked your hometown for how it has helped bring you happiness? When was the last time you laughed together as a family?

If you can't remember the answers to any of these questions, there is a town in southern Chester County where all of those lost opportunities can be fulfilled, on a day specifically designed to make others happy.

On Friday, March 20, schools, stores and institutions throughout Kennett Square will participate in a full day of events and activities intended to spread kindness and joy to others. The one-day celebration is being done in conjunction with the United Nations International Day of Happiness, a movement coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries and thousands of organizations worldwide. Some of those partnering in the local event include local libraries, who are promoting books about happiness; A happy art class will be offered at the Senior Center; Philter, Talula's Table and Nourish, who are offering customers a 'Pay it Forward' opportunity to absorb the cost of someone else's coffee; the Kennett YMCA, the 109 Boutique, and Ashley Austin Boutique, who will be handing out 'Happiness' wristbands throughout the day; State & Union, who will offer residents the chance to write their thoughts in a journal about why Kennett Square makes them happy, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the store; and Lily’s Restaurant is offering a special International Day of Happiness menu. 

In addition, Catherine's restaurant in Unionville will be donating 400 take-out boxes to the students at the Unionville Elementary School. The students have been learning about nutrition during the month of March, and that healthy foods keep your body happy. They will be bringing their own 'happy lunches' to school in these decorated boxes, and will be asked why they consider their lunch to be a happy one. At the Bancroft Elementary School, students will receive another kind of happy box. Inside these boxes are written notes from all their classmates that say something positive about the recipient.

"I wanted to do something that wasn't going to be just a one-day project," said Nancy Pia, chairperson of the Kennett Area YMCA's "Togetherhood" program. "There are, in all, about 15 events going on that day and many more throughout the year that hopefully will plant a seed for this movement to expand, and continue providing happiness and well-being in our community. If you do good, you will feel good. And that makes you happy."

As part of its "Togetherhood" program, the Kennett Area YMCA will be holding a Laughing Yoga class for families, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Taught by two certified Laughing Yoga instructors, the class is intended to encouraging the practice of prolonged laughter, which is said to serve as a both a physical and spiritual benefit to health.

"We're going to try it and see what happens," said Doug Nakashima, executive director of the Kennett Area YMCA. "If we have to move it from our Yoga studio and out it in our gymnasium, we'll move it there."

Nakashima said that if interest in the Laughing Yoga session on Mach 20 is strong, that it will be considered for additional into the YMCA's class schedule -- and thus added to its list of 54 Yoga classes per week.

Since it was formed in 2011 by the United Nations' General Assembly, International Day of Happiness has become a global phenomenon. A resolution adopted by the General Assembly recognized happiness as a "fundamental goal" and called for "a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples."

In 2012, the first United Nations conference on happiness took place, when the General Assembly declared that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on March 20. At the first International Day of Happiness in 2013, events took place all over the world, including happy flash mobs in London; Laughter Yoga in Hong Kong and meditation ceremonies in Bhutan.

The movement has even made its way into the corporate world. Many large corporations now have happiness programs, and some have even appointed their own chief happiness officer.

"What has driven [the 'Togetherhood' project for the YMCA] is that we feel there is a lack of happiness in our community, and it's reflective in some of the Pennsylvania youth surveys in Unionville and Kennett, in terms of how the kids are responding to the questions," he said. "If you talk to (Unionville-Chadds Ford School Superintendent) John Sanville or (Kennett Consolidated School District Superintendent) Barry Tomasetti, I think you'll find that the stress and strain that students feel nowadays is statewide and nation-wide, because of the expectations we put on students.

"What we can do, as well as the other groups we're working with is to respond to, 'How can we collectively raise elbows, and make everyone happier?' We're not doing this ourselves. We're just one piece of the big puzzle."

"The "Togetherhood" initiative helps return the YMCA to the tenets of their original mission, which was to foster health, education and social responsibility. We're now returning back to those central core ideas, and through this program, we are bringing more emphasis on compassion, kindness and making the world a better place. There are no acts of kindness too small. Being kind is hardly ever the wrong thing to do," Pia said.

"Happiness is not something you pursue," Pia added. "It's something you create through strong social connections, healthy lifestyles, and compassion for others."

For more information on International Day of Happiness in Kennett Square, visit its Facebook page, "The Community Happiness Project."

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected]


happiness day 2 Courtesy photo Schools, businesses and organizations throughout Kennett Square will take part in the International Day of Happiness on March 20.