Straight Times

Interview with The Straight Times Newspaper in Singapore

by Joanne Lee

When Dr. Chuck Wall, 58, assigned his business students the first "kindness project" in 1993, all he wanted to do was to drive the message of improving the lives of others.

He never guessed that the project would snowball into an entire movement, making his name synonymous with kindness in the United States.

And he is here to share his experience with participants at today's Singapre Kindness Seminar at the World Trade Center Auditorium.

The seminar is organised by the grassroots Singapore Kindness Movement.

Commenting on society here, Dr.Wall said he was impressed with the Singapore Government's efforts to promote kindness.

Last year, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong launched Singapore Kindness Week and urged Singaporeans to make kindness a part of their culture.

"I take my hat off to the Government here because it not only shows interest in promoting kindness, it is also willing to commit money and support to the concept. There aren't many governments like that."

The kindness movement begun by him took off six years ago when he decided to counter "random acts of senseless violence" with something positive.

Dr.Wall has been blind since he was a teenager, and he says he was tired of being ripped off as a result of his disability. So he told his students at Bakersfield College in California to carry out "random acts of kindness" and write them up as a three-page class paper.

Thanks to his efforts, his town suddenly saw a deluge of acts - help came more readily for stranded motorists, the homeless got food donations, people in retirement homes had visiors, and lost dogs were reunited with their owners.

It was not long before the local newspapers and global wire agencies got wind of what he had started.

His philosophy was picked up quickly by celebrity do-gooders such as the late Diana Ross. He also attracted interview requests from CNN, the Oprah Winfrey Show and People magazine.

In 1994, he managed to lobby the U.S. House of Representatives successfully and got it to start a unprecedented "Act of Kindness Awareness week" for the whole country. Although it did not become a permanent national campaign in U.S. to this day.

He also set up Kindness Inc, a non-profit organization that provides support to individuals and groups wanting to promote kindness in their communities.

When he is not assigning "kindness projects” to his students, he travels around lecturing companies on motivation techiniques to get their employees to care more about their customers.

Said Dr. Wall: "I didn't plan to start a movement and it all came about as an acident, but I am very very thankful to be able to bring the message to the world.

"That, I think, is my greatest act of kindness."

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