Life Vest Inside is born out of the idea that in a seemingly chaotic world with its bumps and curve balls, kindness keeps us afloat; it makes us believe once again in ourselves and helps us see the light at the end of the tunnel.


People always question me and ask, “What does Life Vest Inside mean? How does that relate to kindness?”



Here’s my story:

January 2007: I boarded a plane to set out on a family vacation. During an airport stopover, I checked my voicemails, and received tragic news: a young girl from our community, 7 year-old Stella Laniado, had passed away from leukemia.

As a teacher, I had already encountered grief in my classroom – just three years prior, my students had lost a classmate. Now, just as they were recovering from the shock and pain of that tragic death, another one struck. They would be devastated. Naturally, my first reaction was panic: How would I help my 7th grade students make sense of yet another tragic loss?

Thoughts and questions flooded my mind. How do you find order in such a chaotic world? How do you stay afloat when so many of life’s events seem to pull you downward?

Moments later, I boarded the second plane for my connecting flight. As I sat dazed and disheartened, I looked to my right and a small sign caught my eye: “LIFE VEST INSIDE.” My eyes fixated on those three small words, I smiled and felt an instant comfort. Let me explain. A life vest has the ability to stay afloat regardless of how much one may push down upon it. Our life vest, our ability to overcome our hardships, to make it through comes from “inside.” Through the kindness we bestow on others, through the kindness others bestow upon us – we help keep each other afloat in the stormy seas of life.

Kindness changes lives, it helps us rise after we fall—and at that very moment I made a conscious commitment to spread that message to the world. I would never have imagined back then that those three small words would in fact become something I live by.


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