In today’s Service Spotlight, I am thrilled to share the story of Pravneet and Hurshneet Chadra, the Gen Z founders of Project Smile AZ based in Phoenix, Arizona. I am so inspired by the joy and energy they bring to everything they do and I can’t wait to share their story here.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give us a “Happiness is.”
Pravneet and Hurshneet: Happiness is.. bringing smiles to all.
Liz: Tell me about your work.
Pravneet and Hurshneet: Smiles for all A2Z is the vision of Project Smile AZ. This is achievable by believing that everyone can be a smile maker, a change maker! It is inclusive to anyone anywhere to join in. Our youngest smile makers have been preschoolers and our oldest smile maker is 92-year-old! We share our smiles and art kits to children in foster homes, refugees, and children with disabilities to encourage them to participate in our project. This brings smiles to those making the cards using the kit as well as to those receiving the cards. It’s a win win!
Our project promotes acts of kindness through both in-person and virtual activities allowing anyone, anywhere to be a smile maker—be it by making kindness cards, art kits, food donation drives, upcycling gently used books, or meeting virtually to do digital kindness squad meetings, Read4all program for sharing books that promote empathy and kindness, ESports tournaments to raise funds, and much more. We encourage youth participation and feel each smile maker is precious and unique. We are a youth-led organization. We do an annual summer internship to train and develop future smile leaders who can be leaders in their local community. Our goal is to share information and mentor anyone who wishes to do good and needs any guidance on how to build a community of kind smile-makers. We are now more than a thousand smile makers strong and our goal is to reach across all U.S. states and eventually the globe.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Pravneet and Hurshneet: Engaging youth in community activity shapes a better future for our society. To engage youth, you have to think like one and give young people chances to learn about a cause, understand why it’s relevant to their passions and interests, and test out ways of getting involved. Our project focuses on creating smile makers across the globe by allowing each person to find their passion and use it uniquely to do kind acts
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Pravneet and Hurshneet: To use your passion, talent, and time to make a difference around you.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Liz: Anything else you’d like to add?
Pravneet and Hurshneet: Our Vision with Project Smile AZ has been to make everyone a smile maker. Just like Martin Luther King Jr said, “Anybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
Our project runs in parallel harnessing the best of technology through social media, online presence, and other volunteer platforms to engage youth in kindness activity. We have learned that there is no small act of kindness. Even smiling at a stranger is an act of kindness. Sharing a positive like or comment on social media is an act of kindness. As long as we recognize that kindness comes in different ways and use that to bring more good to this world, we would see smiles everywhere.
Liz: Do you have a piece of advice or quote to leave us with?
Pravneet and Hurshneet: Anyone, anywhere, anytime can be a smilemaker; all you need is a kind heart and passion to make a difference.