Mayor Tom Tait, along with Sean Oliu '20, joined Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation to advocate for the nonprofit's Share Kindness Experience
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By JOSEPH PIMENTEL / STAFF WRITER
Mayor Tom Tait's simple act of kindness campaign has taken him to the Big Apple.
Tait, along with Servite student and singer Sean Oliu, on Dec. 22 joined Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation to advocate for the nonprofit's #ShareKindness Experience, a push to inspire 1 million acts of kindness in a month.
"Mayor Tait has been a leader in the kindness movement, helping to raise awareness of the importance of kindness and using his office to foster a culture that embraces it in Anaheim," Maya Enista Smith, executive director of Born This Way Foundation, said in a statement. The foundation focuses on empowering youth.
Tait said he could have never imagined his campaign to promote kindness in the city would have such a tremendous impact nationwide.
"It's gone far beyond anything I've imagined," Tait said. "We know intuitively that everything is better when we are kind to each other and have a culture of kindness. ... This is the antidote of what's going on in our country."
Since taking office in 2010, Tait has championed that Anaheim and its residents be known as a city of kindness.
The mayor's campaign has created several initiatives, such as a "Year of Kindness" and "The Million Acts of Kindness" for elementary schoolchildren. In response, the Dalai Lama chose Anaheim as one of his stops in the United States, and Tait was invited to President Barack Obama's 21st-century-policing task force.
In June, inspired by Tait's initiative and a collective call for kindness from the Dalai Lama and Lady Gaga, the U.S. Conference of Mayors encouraged other cities, businesses and schools to achieve 100 billion acts of kindness nationwide.
"It doesn't cost us anything," Tait said of being kind. "My focus was only Anaheim, but kindness resonates with people and other mayors who are trying to build their cities into something greater. It's a change in culture and (is more) powerful than policies, tactics and procedures."
During his trip, Tait brought along Oliu, a 14-year-old student who was a 2013 finalist on "La Voz Kids," Telemundo's Spanish-language version of "The Voice" singing competition.
Oliu won $4,000 in 2013 and has since raised thousands more to create a music and mariachi program at his alma mater, Adelaide Price Elementary School.
"Sean is a perfect example of kindness," Tait said. "Here's a talented kid who used his winnings and raised tens of thousands more so the school could buy expensive music equipment and learn how to play."
Tait said he is not surprised his kindness initiative has exceeded expectation. He wants to push more kindness initiatives, especially with young children.
"Kids are the best people to carry this message to change the world," he said.
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