Speaker, author, and kindness expert Gabriella van Rij creates a striking presence whenever she steps on stage. One reason? The basketball she often has tucked under her arm. “People remember better with analogies,” explains Gabriella. “So I tell them, the ball is a symbol. We as a society have dropped the ball on human kindness®. And now I’m asking everyone to pick up the ball.”
At the heart of this analogy is a unique story. In the late 1960s, a British couple – Helen and Harvey -- met a toddler in an orphanage in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. They made a life-changing decision to be the difference in her life. That orphan was Gabriella. Helen and Harvey found a new family for her in Holland, and Gabriella’s life began again.
But Gabriella was not prepared for life in the West. Where she thought she would find kindness and love, she found instead high expectations that she failed to meet from Day 1. Growing up dark-skinned in a predominately white society, Gabriella came to learn what it feels like when kindness is withheld.
As an adult, Gabriella made a commitment to create awareness—using the ball as a recognizable symbol—that all it takes is one moment, one person, one kindness to help someone go from a negative space to a positive place. BE the difference.