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Community ‘superhero’ believes kindness is key to building a better city

Community ProfileCommunity ‘superhero’ believes kindness is key to building a better city

Dave Carrol has become one of the more recognizable figures in Brantford, because of his desire to foster a kinder, more positive, and caring community through various initiatives.

Carrol, who has spent the majority of his life in Brantford and has enjoyed success as a broadcaster, marketer, event coordinator, and pastor, explained how the city changed after a key event.  

“I grew up in the north end of town [and] it was a great place to grow up…I still have lots of people that are still friends today. But I would say that it was the time that I was growing up when Massey-Ferguson closed up. I remember how big of a blow that was to the morale of many in town,” Carrol continued. “And, so we sort of grew up knowing that when you were old enough to leave, you were probably going to go…There was a negativity surrounding the city when I was growing up.”

Dave Carrol has leveraged his knowledge and experience as a broadcaster, podcaster, and marketer to communicate important messages to the community such as kindness. Carrol is pictured here on the set of his show #Brantlife on RogersTV. Photo courtesy Dave Carrol.

Although Carrol knew Brantford was home and he wanted to serve the community in some capacity in the future, he decided to journey away for a short time.

“I got married, [and] we moved to and lived in West Africa for half a year; doing some missionary work and training and even starting up a baseball league there. But when I came back the whole idea of how to use kindness to be able to transform a city [came to me] when I was in West Africa [and] I helped start Freedom House, which is coming up to its 20th anniversary. And so, we started doing what we called Flippin’ Fridays downtown on Market Street where our church was initially [located]…it was [where] the old Rainforest restaurant was, [and] when we bought, a bar called The Scene was there. We realized, [after] we bought the building, people were turning tricks in our parking lot. And they were running cocaine out around there,” Carrol continued. “We set up a barbecue on Market Street, from ten p.m., until two o’clock in the morning, giving away burgers and hotdogs. And it became a fascinating mix of people who were in need. And different people, who were friends of ours, started to come down and hang out on the street [and helped us] give away free burgers and hot dogs.”

From there, Carrol along with other noted community members including Jamie Stephens and Lucas Duguid (successful local entrepreneurs), as well as Patti Berardi (long-time station manager at Rogers TV) started to collaborate on a host of projects to help build awareness for the city.

“In my early 20s, I started to get together with a bunch of other people who were Brantford people who were deciding to stay as well. And that bound us together, to be able to try and serve our city in different areas [and] working in or investing in [to] make the city what we always wished that it could be,” said Carrol.

Dave Carrol has been the host of #Brantlife show on RogersTV for five seasons. He has interviewed many people from the community and showcased their contributions and successes. Carrol is pictured here wrapping up his fifth season with (from left to right) Doug Hunt (Guinness World Record-holder for stilt walking), Tammy Hunt (author) and Dave Levac (former MPP.) Photo courtesy Dave Carrol.

However, Carrol, who has been the host of the popular #Brantlife show on local community television, continued to look for opportunities to get people connected via events and community outreach.

“I was part of the team that started the [Freedom] church [and] Brian Beattie was the lead pastor for many years. And I worked alongside him and the rest of our team [and] continually wanted to find ways to be able to show kindness and find ways to be able to serve the city. And so, in the early days of Harmony Square, we went to [the city] … [and spoke] to [the] person in charge of filling the Square [and how we could help.] They had just had the very first Jazz Festival in the summer [and] were looking to find something to do in the winter season like a winter carnival,” Carrol continued. “The first year we did it, we were just hoping that people came out, so [that] we didn’t lose our shirts. Instead, 1000s of people came, and… it was a way to remind us that…we’re together as a community…being able to bring people together during the coldest, longest time of the year.”

As Caroll’s involvement within the Brantford community increased, it eventually morphed into the ‘Kindness Project.’

“It’s not an official entity or organization, [but] when we started, the goal was to use kindness [and] how to infuse kindness into all these different areas [in the city]. And when we were working with a gentleman to do our logo for the Kindness Project, I was trying to communicate what this was. And he went back and he made the [initial] logo that we hated. I was frustrated [and] went for a walk and I came back with [an idea] for a balloon for a logo, because a balloon is worth virtually nothing. But if you walk into a room, and there’s a balloon in it, suddenly you go, ‘Oh, hey, a balloon, something’s going on here.’ It’s like what kindness is, it’s this little [thing] that changes the atmosphere of a room,” Carrol said. “So we looked for ways to be able to find little things that have ‘balloon factors’ to them as I call them…How do you put up a balloon in a school? How do you add that little element of kindness that changes things? And I can tell you, when I first started this, I didn’t realize how powerful acts of kindness were.”

Dave Carrol created his superhero character ‘Captain Kindness’ to help spread kindness through the city and beyond. ‘Captain Kindness’ is pictured here visiting children at the Lansdowne’s Children Centre in Brantford. Photo courtesy Dave Carrol.

Carrol then developed Captain Kindness as a result of the Kindness Project.

“[Captain Kindness] came out of the Santa Claus parade 15 years ago [because] the theme of the parade was superheroes. And because kindness was what we were doing, we just went with that without thinking much about it. I was put in a leotard and they stuck me up on a flatbed truck and I became Captain Kindness,” Carrol noted.

“We won the award for the best float in the parade that year and then I started to get these calls about [requests for] Captain Kindness…to come to schools and events. All of my weekends and holidays were being taken up by going out as this superhero,” explained Carrol. “I couldn’t believe its impact…all of a sudden, I was going to schools and doing school assemblies…and that was the thing, it was fascinating to many people [and] it wasn’t just a thing for kids. To me, it was always just this little visual reminder that kindness can change things [and] change the cities.”

The superhero character of ‘Captain Kindness’ has brought Dave Carrol an opportunity to positively influence people locally as well as spawning other Captain Kindness superheroes throughout the United States. Developing this character has also given Carrol a chance to speak at TEDx with his presentation called ‘Kindness: A Catalyst for Community Transformation’ in 2017. Photo courtesy Dave Carrol.

As a result, Carrol has continued to see the many positive effects of Captain Kindness in the community and remind people of the power of kindness; in fact, Carrol has experienced many amazing things himself by playing a superhero.

“I wound up winning the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for Service to the nation. And I’m up on the stage…with these incredible community leaders,” Carrol explained. “[Playing Captain Kindness] turned into a TED Talk and all of these different things [like] people in different parts of the United States [having their] own Captain Kindness superheroes…I get these stories from groups that have been inspired by it and it’s a phenomenon. I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out…but for me, it was something that was lacking in our day-to-day life. And if you look for ways to infuse kindness into any area [of our lives] it changes things [and] changes the whole atmosphere.”

Seven members of the Freedom House Community including Dave Carrol (second to the right) were honoured with the Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee Award for service to the community. Photo courtesy Dave Carrol.

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