Metta Students Foundation continues to recognize extraordinary acts of kindness

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The Metta Students Foundation is looking for a few good teens.

Each month during the school year, the non-profit gives $1,000 to a Rhode Island or Massachusetts teen who has shared “metta,” or done an act of kindness. To date, the foundation has given out $38,000 and is searching for more students who “#sharemetta.”

“Working with the Metta Students Foundation since its inception has been amazing,” said Cranston resident and foundation board member Laura Clarizio. “To be able to be a part of an organization that honors teens who #sharemetta and to be able to meet them is extremely rewarding. We are hoping to inspire even more people to be kind and are grateful for all the support we have received.”

“Metta” means love, compassion, kindness, empathy, and caring. Founder Norm Kelly decided to create the Metta Students Foundation after learning of the inspiring story of Stephen and Tayler.

Born with cerebral palsy, Stephen Carroll of Johnston has lived his life in a wheelchair. His family raised him to be independent, and through the years he has overcome many obstacles.

Come senior year, Stephen wanted to go to his prom. When 16-year-old Tayler Boardman-Kelly, a junior from North Providence, heard that Stephen had no one to go with, she wanted to be his prom date. That night, Stephen’s fellow students voted him prom king.

“It’s the spirit of that 2012 prom night coupled with Tayler’s selfless act that made me want to create a foundation,” Kelly said, “one that didn’t reward the best athlete or smartest kid, but one that acknowledges their compassion.”

Since the foundation’s October 2012 inception, Metta Students has handed out $38,000. The acts of kindness range from a Cranston teen who created his own non-profit foundation to help the homeless, to two opposing high school basketball teams who made a student’s dream come true by allowing him to score the winning shots, to most recently where a Central Falls teen saved the life of a 13-year-old girl.

“The stories are all unique and amazing,” Kelly said, “but the common denominator with all of our Metta winners is care and compassion. It has truly been a humbling experience to witness these acts of kindness and we want to acknowledge even more high school students. My SQA business partners, CEO Rob Lanza of Wrentham and CFO Mark McPhillips of Cranston, have been instrumental in funding the foundation, and last school year we expanded into Massachusetts.”

In September 2015, the foundation received official non-profit status.

“We welcome other companies’ donations so we can someday make this a national movement, but for now we are searching for even more heartwarming stories so we can acknowledge and hopefully pay it forward,” Kelley said.

Metta Students has a simple form to fill out on its website, mettastudents.org. The group can also be found on Facebook and Twitter under Metta Students.

“Even just joining our pages helps #sharemetta,” Kelly said.

For more information about the Metta Students Foundation, visit mettastudents.org.

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