Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

MV on Kofi Kindness – The Gratitude Journal

Kofi Kindness – The Gratitude Journal, Museums Victoria, May 2021

In July 2020, things were looking grim for Victorians. Melbourne was deep into its second wave of COVID-19 with the State of Victoria undergoing a series of staged restrictions, “Stay at Home” mandates and closures of schools, businesses and non-essential services. Coronavirus cases were skyrocketing and a stricter, longer lockdown was imminent.

Kofi Aden holding his Gratitude Journal.

Amid the uncertainty and despair circulating online, youth worker and public speaker Abdi Aden posted a photo of his thirteen-year-old son Kofi’s Gratitude Journal to “The Kindness Pandemic” Facebook page. Kofi’s entry read: ‘I am grateful for my parents because they are always there to help me with whatever I need help with. They have done so much in the 13 years and 31 days I have been on this earth. And I look forward to the … years that I will experience with the two of you.

Within hours, the post had received thousands of likes, dozens of shares and hundreds of comments. ‘I am grateful for kids like you who can make our future amazing!’ one person exclaimed, another adding, ‘You remind me that there is still HOPE for our world. Thanks Kofi.’ Many more commented about what they were personally grateful for. Neither Kofi nor his father had anticipated such a large response.

Living with his family in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne, Kofi Aden had spent the first months of COVID-19 lockdown at home with his two brothers, his father Abdi, and his mother Angela, an aged care nurse. Like many children and teenagers across Melbourne, Kofi had grappled with the challenges of home-schooling, as well as missing his friends, classmates and regular social and sporting activities. ‘The main change was my routine and the routine of our home,’ recalls Kofi. ‘I was unable to play basketball and see other people in general.’ His father remarked at the time, ‘It is good that we are all healthy and are coping with the lockdown. It is hard as we do not know what will happen and how to prepare.’

In April 2020, Kofi appeared in a series of online videos filmed by his dad to connect with migrant communities. ‘I asked Kofi to do a promotional video for face mask awareness as this was a really important message,’ Abdi explains. ‘I [had also] been doing regular informational videos for the Somali community such as wear a mask, how to get tested, and where to go for assistance when needed.’ As Kofi writes on “The Kindness Pandemic” website, the appreciative feedback from the mask-awareness videos ‘encouraged my dad and me to discuss further acts of kindness during [COVID-19].’

Inspired by the scientific theory that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, Kofi decided to keep a Gratitude Journal for 66 days and share his entries with the general public to motivate others. ‘I am hoping to stay positive,’ he reflects, ‘and I think the Gratitude Journal is a great way to do this.’

Abdi and Kofi Aden at Home, uploading pages of the Gratitude Journal onto the Kindness Pandemic Facebook page.

Inspired by the scientific theory that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, Kofi decided to keep a Gratitude Journal for 66 days and share his entries with the general public to motivate others. ‘I am hoping to stay positive,’ he reflects, ‘and I think the Gratitude Journal is a great way to do this.’

‘And from there it was not hard to make a decision,’ adds Abdi, referring to sharing the Gratitude Journal online. ‘It is a really great habit to create and makes other people feel good when times are difficult.’ What’s more, keeping the journal became a way for Kofi to maintain focus and consistency in changing times. ‘We as a family started to create a new routine and made that our normal,’ he says.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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