I was recently honoured to collaborate with Sarah from the 1000 Hearts. She kindly donated some beautiful hearts to be used in one of my Rainbow Baby Sessions (learn more here). This photo of baby Harry was created using those hearts.
I contacted Sarah and asked her to share the story about her 1000 hearts kindness project…
1000 Hearts is a kindness project that I started in 2016 as a personal challenge. I started with a simple goal to make one thousand pocket-sized hearts from pure wool felt, and give them away to people who could pass them along in random acts of kindness. At the time, I had experienced some heartbreak in my own life and had realised how significant simple acts of kindness can be. I hoped that in offering kindness to others, perhaps my own heart would start to heal.
Looking back on that time, I’m really glad I didn’t know how far 1000 Hearts was going to go as I think it might have made me feel pressured and I may not have got started. I was nervous about putting my idea out there – I remember wondering if people were going to think it was silly, naïve or overly optimistic to think that such a simple thing could make a difference. At the same time, I had faith that small things are very important, especially when it comes to connecting with and supporting each other. And so I started. I set up the Facebook page and invited some of my friends to follow along as I stitched. I asked for volunteers to give the hearts away. I expected that once the 1000 hearts were finished, I would close down the page and get on with my life, pleased to have accomplished my goal.
I’ve always loved the song “From Little Things Big Things Grow” by Paul Kelly, and I think 1000 Hearts is an example of this. As I embarked on my little project, I was touched and amazed to see how people connected with the idea. When I sent out those original hearts, I was astounded by how much they meant to people; in some cases they were life-changing for those who received them. And then other people started making hearts alongside me, and I started to get an inkling that making 1000 hearts was not going to be enough…not nearly enough!
Now, three and a half years after starting the project, I find myself the founder of a global kindness community. Hearts have been given, received and made in America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Asia, Europe, Africa and all around Australia. People have taken the 1000 Hearts project into schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, emergency services, community organisations, corporate spaces and private homes. Hearts have been offered at weddings, funerals, birthdays and on ordinary days. From first day of school anxiety to end of life, hearts are being shared to honour those moments when a little love is needed.
I love seeing how people interpret the idea behind 1000 Hearts and make it their own, spreading the love and growing our community in beautifully creative ways. I especially love seeing young people getting involved, as the hearts give them a way of expressing kindness when words may be difficult to find. Today’s world is so full of fear and uncertainty, it can be easy to become despondent and feel helpless – making hearts can provide an opportunity to focus on the small things we can do for each other to express our care and offer hope.
I’ve learned so much through this project and it is still my biggest teacher. I’ve learned to keep the faith about those small, simple things – they really do make a difference. I’ve learned that being kind to ourselves and others becomes even more important in times of crisis and challenge, and that creating community is about sharing who we are and inviting others to join us in doing a meaningful thing. When we feel overwhelmed, anxious or heartbroken, doing a small act of goodness can give us a sense of purpose and connection which leads to healing – that’s what happened for me. I’m so grateful to those who have responded to 1000 Hearts with such generosity and love – it takes just one person to have an idea, but it takes a lot more people to create a community!
If you’d like to learn more, head to the 1000 Hearts website: www.1000hearts.com.au
Photos (above) by Kristy Dowsing Photography