Spread Love and Kindness

Like many of us, Jason Faulknor ’04 dreamed of making a difference. The former Bradley basketball player wanted to create a clothing brand that would reflect something positive and be relatable to people of all backgrounds. The words that kept screaming out to him were “spread love,” which Faulknor does every day with his students and complete strangers alike.

“We get too focused on ourselves in this fast-paced world,” he said. “We need to slow down and consider what we can do for someone else. How can we encourage them or make their life easier? Even just something small like opening a door for a stranger can greatly impact their day.”

Faulknor started small with just 17 shirts emblazoned with his message. He handed them out to friends and wore them everywhere he went. People constantly stopped to ask about the shirt.

“It was a great conversation starter.”

The conversation continued when Faulknor wore his Spread Love shirt as a teacher at North Kipling Junior Middle School in Toronto. His vice principal loved the shirt and soon all the teachers were wearing them.

Spread Love Fridays came next, an anti-bullying initiative to combat the growing epidemic in their school. The idea was to encourage students and teachers alike to think how they could make a positive influence on those around them. The atmosphere at the school changed and students began reminding Faulknor, “How are you spreading love today?”

At Humberwood Downs Junior Middle Academy where Faulknor now teaches, the administration also adopted the Spread Love message by wearing the shirts on Fridays. Promoting kindness in the classroom is another of Faulknor’s tactics.

“I embolden students to lend a hand, encourage others, say something nice, or think about how you can be nice to someone every day,” he said, a message he also brings to other schools. “I speak to them about what our words can do. They can build someone up or tear someone down.”

Spread Love has reached people worldwide, including Norway, Japan, Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean, something Faulknor didn’t necessarily anticipate at its launch. “My goal was to donate 10 percent to charity each month, and I was able to accomplish that in year two.” Next, he hopes to create a Spread Love foundation that would meet the needs of people less fortunate or struggling.

With a desire to give back that goes beyond Spread Love, Faulknor and some friends started Youth R Us to work with at-risk youth, especially those interested in pursuing post-secondary sports.

“We help them keep their grades up, get them entered in tournaments to gain exposure, teach them about etiquette in social settings and on social media,” he said. “(We want to) be the male figure in their life that many of them are lacking.”

For current Bradley students, Faulknor advises them to value the people they meet.

“Your experiences at Bradley will last your lifetime. Be a good person and make a positive impact. To be happy for a lifetime — show kindness. What you do for one person, they will remember forever.”

Photo provided