GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – When it comes to good deeds, they say it’s the little things that make a big difference. That may be best exemplified by a rapidly spreading social media movement, based around a West Michigan teen who lost his life over two decades ago.
On Halloween night in 1992, high-schooler Adam Provencal spotted a group of his friends pulling a prank on a house in his hometown of Grand Haven. Described by those who knew him as a kind-hearted person and a star athlete – who had helped the school win a soccer championship earlier that day – Adam stayed true to his nature by approaching the front door to apologize and clear his name. He was met with gun fire, and later died.
“He was always for the underdog,” said Adam’s younger sister Lara Capuano. “He was the first kid to see the one that no one saw. He was the first one to dance with the shy girl. He was the one to put the bully in the headlock so the nerd could get away.”
The #AdamsActs initiative was started by Lara. Having since moved to New York state, she posted about her brother on her blog four years ago, asking people to participate in random acts of kindness in his honor.
“We wanted to sort of bring life out of death and that was how the movement started four years ago.”
But last year, Lara began using the hashtag ‘AdamsActs,’ and the trend picked up more quickly than even she could have guessed – both online and in communities across the world. Since starting the hashtag, Lara says she’s seen traces of it coming from India, Japan, and Ukraine.
“We were pretty surprised to see what was going on,” said Lara.
The movement has strong roots in Grand Haven too. Lyndsey Yonker, a seventh grade teacher at Lakeshore Middle School – where Adam went to school in the 90s and where there still stands a sculpture in his honor outside the building – is getting her students involved in the initiative. They didn’t know Adam, but Lyndsey says there’s much to be learned from the way he lived his life.
“It’s the little things that can really make a difference in somebody’s day,” said Yonker. “I have a couple of kids that will walk down the hallway and say, ‘#AdamsActs. You did something nice for somebody.’ So they’re starting to really notice other people doing small, nice gestures.”
The students post their good deeds and random acts of kindness daily on a bulletin board in the classroom, something Lyndsey says has helped change their perspective.
“Little things really do matter,” said Lyndsey, “and a small task or a small gesture can really brighten somebody’s day.”
Lara says, that was all part of the plan.
“We really do believe that we are just doing the same types of things that he would have spent his lifetime doing, she said. “I really believe it takes this many people to do all the things he would have done in one lifetime.”