By Avi Vieira
On January 21st, West Valley one•n•ten spent an evening reflecting on the kindness of others and the power of compliments as they participated in Appreciation Night. The evening kicked off with the group asked about the greatest compliment they ever received. Examples included compliments from close friends, trusted family members, and people they look up to. This was compared to the most dis-empowering statement they had experienced. Youth shared stories of times they may have felt their physical safety threatened and how they dealt with the situation, or stood up to others. From school bullies, to facing members of the Westboro Baptist Church the discussion focused on the power of positive and negative statements. The evening shifted to a discussion of how it feels when someone does something nice for them, and the effect a compliment does to someone when they are feeling down or in an otherwise bad mood. The group was reminded of the power of random compliments.
The main activity for the evening involved clipping a paper to the back of everyone’s shirts, with others writing one thing they appreciate about that person, or offer one compliment to that person. Within minutes the group was writing “secret” messages of appreciation and compliments to each other. Following the activity, the group was called back together to share what others wrote of them, and their reactions when they read what others had to say about them. One youth put it best:
“I really appreciated the compliments you all wrote on my paper. It really meant a lot to me, I had no idea you all had such nice things to say about me. I’m really glad you’re all in my life. You’re like my big gay fabulous family.”
The evening ended with an encouragement to give compliments frequently, as it not only makes that person’s world that much brighter, but your own as well.