Joliet Township High School Students To

Joliet Central and West High School students will mark Leap Day this week by “leaping into service,” a campaign intended to encourage high school students to pay it forward. The schools are empowering students to make a difference in the lives of others by using an insurance company’s program that promotes random acts of kindness through the simplest of gestures.

All the students at both schools will receive a wooden token that encourages people to perform an act of kindness for someone and then pass along the token to that individual. This concept that one token can start a chain reaction of kindness was created by Aviva USA, a life insurance and annuities company whose U.S. operations headquarters is in West Des Moines, Iowa.

The token program is part of what Aviva calls Youmanity, a blend of the words “you” and “humanity.” According to Aviva, Youmanity is the belief that one person, you, can make a difference through an act of kindness, big or small.

The concept will be presented to the students and they will receive their tokens Wednesday between 10:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. at Joliet West, and Joliet Central students will receive their tokens Thursday between 10:20 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

“This concept is simple and fits perfectly with our strategic plan and the JTHS character attributes,” said Joliet Township High Schools superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy. “We’re excited to see what happens with the tokens and how big of a difference our students can make individually and collectively. We’re hoping it translates into multiple acts of kindness that make an impact on people’s lives throughout Joliet, the Chicago area and beyond.”

The two schools’ nearly 6,000 students and staff members will receive a Youmanity token that includes a tracking number, allowing the recipient to register the token either on Aviva’s website or its Facebook page.

As a token gets passed and others register it as well, an online application allows tracking of the token to see how many times it is passed and how far it travels. One token, for example, has been passed 53 times and has been to 26 states plus the District of Columbia.

The tracking tool also allows people to tell their story about the act of kindness they received or gave in the passing of the token. Among the random acts of kindness associated with the token traveling to 26 states were providing blankets to the homeless, making a donation to a charity and paying for a stranger’s meal.

Aviva’s pledge to Youmanity was first announced in May 2010. The Joliet Township High School District learned about the program on Facebook and contacted Aviva to request tokens.

“We applaud the drive, passion and commitment of the Joliet students and staff to make a difference,” said Chris Jones, Aviva USA’s chief marketing officer. “We believe a single act of kindness can start a movement. We’re thrilled the Joliet school district officials who share that opinion found our Youmanity token program on Facebook.

“Random acts of kindness – which the students will demonstrate in the weeks ahead – transcend generations, ethnicity and economic status. We’re excited to see the kind of impact these students will have by leaping into service in their community, and we’re honored to play a small role.”

The leap into service campaign will culminate April 20-22, when the Joliet Township High School District will participate in Global Youth Service Day. Global Youth Service Day is among the largest service initiatives in the U.S.

“We want our students to make an impact locally through Global Youth Service Day, and the Youmanity token campaign is a great way to begin this pay-it-forward mentality to get our students to leap into service through random acts of kindness,” McCarthy said.

To learn more about the token program, click on the links about Youmanity and Aviva USA.

About Joliet Township High School District 204 The mission of Joliet Township High School, a diverse and unified learning community of choice, is to empower every student to acquire and apply the attributes to compete and contribute positively to our community and global society by providing a rigorous, relevant, and innovative education in a safe, supportive, academy environment through a quality, caring, and dedicated staff working in partnership with family and community.

About Aviva USA Aviva USA is a sales leader of indexed life insurance and indexed annuities. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, Aviva USA also has offices in Topeka, Kan., and Melville, N.Y. Aviva USA has approximately 1 million customers and employs more than 1,500 people across the country. Aviva USA is part of Aviva plc and can trace its presence in the United States back to 1896.

Copyright Business Wire 2010