Talk to 12-year-old Olivia Bennett for five minutes, and you’d be convinced this is a young girl who has never been short on friends. Her warm smile lights up every room. Her engaging personality makes everyone want to be a better person.
And her cute-as-a-button face — well, that’s the icing on the cake.
Sadly, it’s during that short conversation that you’ll also hear heart-wrenching stories from a girl who has been bullied by other children, made to feel inferior, and, at times, left to feel invisible. Her family has moved a lot in her short lifetime, which often makes Olivia the “new girl” in school. And as we all know, that’s not always the best spot to be in.
“There was this group of girls who were being super-duper mean to me in the third grade,” Olivia said. She and her family now live in Flower Mound. “I didn’t understand why, so I found a tube on the playground and sat down and started crying.”
Many kids react negatively to constantly being picked on. But not all of them — and certainly not Olivia. Something magical happened that day on the playground. Another girl saw Olivia crying and ran over to console her, and they are still best friends to this day. More importantly, Olivia continued to preach to her parents, Jessica and Adam, that even though bad things are going on in the world, they could make it all go away by doing one thing: spreading kindness.
“It was an amazing attitude,” Jessica Bennett said. “Unfortunately, [kindness] is not the focus for a lot of people — even adults. She wanted us to help, and naturally, we said, ‘Of course, we will!’ We wanted to help her spread that message.”
Fast forward four years, and the Bennetts — with Olivia at the helm — have been spreading their message of kindness. What started small with a few YouTube videos by Olivia has become a full-blown 501(c)(3) nonprofit aptly named, Living That Kind Life.
The mission is poignant and straightforward: “we will encourage people of all ages to spread kindness.”
The organization was formally introduced in March and has been quickly gaining steam even in the middle of a pandemic. This includes efforts such as donating 47 bags of snack and hygiene kits to the Salvation Army in April and partnering with local people to deliver well-wishes and goodies to employees at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Flower Mound. Living That Kind Life also held virtual camps for kids during the last half of the school year and orchestrated three drive-by birthday shoutouts to kids whose families were stuck in quarantine.
Living That Kind Life has six initiatives that it hopes will take off like gangbusters as we head into 2021.
The first is Kindness Clubs, where LTKL partners with school districts in Denton, Tarrant, and Dallas Counties to create or build on existing kindness clubs and anti-bullying campaigns. As kindness encouragers, the goal is to stand up with kindness in all situations, conversations, confrontations, and conflicts while encouraging others to do the same. This club engages in acts of kindness and events that establish a culture of kindness within the campus and district while also reaching beyond the campus walls to make a difference in our communities and world.
Olivia held her first Kindness Club via Zoom at Coppell Middle School East in October. In total, 92 kids signed up, and 48 showed up that evening. They also got three of her teachers to sponsor the event.
“There’s a lot going on around us that always focuses on the negative. But when we started these, people showed up,” Jessica said. “It gave me hope for our future, and it’s inspiring to me because these students are very passionate about this mission and being able to spread kindness. They want to contribute; they just need an outlet.”
Jessica added, “Many schools have an anti-bullying program, but some do better than others. We aren’t looking to replace those; we simply want to come alongside of them and help establish or reinforce what they have, whether that’s through providing resources, digital content, printed materials, etc.”
Olivia’s efforts don’t stop there. Kind Connections is a volunteer-based initiative that asks everyone to visit local nursing homes and assisted living centers virtually or in-person to spread cheer and build lasting relationships with those residents. The third initiative is what Olivia calls Kind Collaborations, which are designed to build critical partnerships with businesses in and around the DFW area to provide elements of kindness to events and businesses.
The final three initiatives are Kind Coaching to help with mental health and life coaching, Kind Collections for things like snack and hygiene kits for the needy, and Kindness Cup events.
The Kindness Cup event emphasizes the understanding that we cannot pour from an empty cup. To spread kindness, we have to be filled up ourselves, and that takes intentional and consistent focus and investment into ourselves. The first Kindness Cup went live on November 13th (World Kindness Day) at 9 a.m. The purchase of each ticket will secure you with access to nine experienced and professionally led breakout sessions and a Kindness Cup Kit full of self-care resources that will go along with the sessions. The best part is that people can participate in these recorded sessions, indefinitely, at their own pace. You can get tickets under the Store tab on their website.
“It’s pretty astounding to see the research that’s been done on what kindness can do,” Jessica said. “We want everyone to understand that and realize they are doing something that will change their school, community, and the world.”
Jessica said she is still bowled over by how successful this campaign has been and how quickly people have latched onto the idea that kindness is possible. When Olivia first approached her parents, they were both working full-time. It was difficult to build in time with their busy work schedule, so they started small. Everything started heating up when Jessica left her full-time job and realized it was the perfect time to give Olivia’s dreams of a better world bigger wings.
They’ve since created a logo, a mission statement, and a company website. “We formally started the paperwork in January, and it all came through in March,” Jessica said. “Life got a little crazy after that [with the pandemic], but we started small by just helping people. We believe in this, and our heart really is in giving this mission legs.”
“I think we should be kind to everyone, even if they don’t have the same faith as us,” she said. “We want everyone to know that we need to spread kindness in every way that we can.”
Naturally, these efforts require funding. If you’d like to help Living That Kind Life or see how you can get your child involved, visit and their events tab. You can also see what Olivia and the rest of the Bennetts are doing on Facebook (@livingthatkindlife), Instagram (@livingthatkindlife), and YouTube (Living That Kind Life).