Ben’s Bells Newtown Workshop, June 5 At NUMC

All are invited to spread intentional kindness by participating in a Ben’s Bells workshop on Wednesday, June 5, from 6-8 pm, at Newtown United Methodist Church.

Jeannette Maré, founder of the Ben’s Bells Project and Ben’s mom, will be at this workshop to talk about the project, which was inspired by the kindness extended to her following the sudden death of her two-year old son. The Tuscon, Ariz.-based non-profit promotes and celebrates intentional kindness.

The simple, everyday acts of kindness following Ben’s death helped Ms Maré survive and begin to heal. She was inspired to establish Ben’s Bells Project as a way to recognize and continue the kindness shown to her. Ben’s Bells are brightly colored ceramic works of art that are randomly hung in public places and bear a tag instructing the person who finds it to take it home and remember to be kind.

On the first anniversary of Ben’s death, 400 bells were hung in public places for strangers to find. To date more than 33,000 bells have been hung in Tuscon and beyond. Newtown was introduced to the project in January, in response to 12/14. Ms Maré visited the town with a few volunteers and hung the first Ben’s Bells for residents to discover.

“This bell symbolizes our connection as a community and the power we each have to change the world by committing kindness, one interaction at a time,” said Ms Maré. “The Ben’s Bells Newtown chapter has some of the most dedicated, passionate and kind volunteers, and I can’t wait to spend more time spreading kindness with them, the local schools, and the community.”

During each Ben’s Bells workshop, attendees form beads with clay and then have the opportunity to paint (glaze) beads. The bell-making process is a community activity because it takes ten different hands to make one Ben’s Bell; no single person or organization will ever start  and finish their very own Ben’s Bell. The handmade beads are strung on a piece of rawhide, ending with a small copper bell.

While there is no charge to attend a workshop, a donation of $5 is requested. Donations help fund the entire range of Ben’s Bells Newtown activities, from keeping the public sessions ongoing to offering kindness education programs in schools.

Space is limited, so registration is requested and can be done at http://bbn-june5.eventbrite.com.

The June 5 workshop will be part of a six-day visit to the East Coast by Ms Maré and her 17-year old son Matt. The two have a very busy itinerary, with visits planned to Boston to distribute Ben’s Bells, and then visits to schools in Newtown, Fairfield and Stratford for workshops and programs.

Since beginning its chapter this past February, Ben’s Bells Newtown has conducted nearly 15 workshops, distributed 150 bells across the region, and will soon be opening a Ben’s Bells studio.

The chapter “will soon be opening a Ben’s Bells Studio and [is] in the process of signing up nearly 15 schools and organizations in Connecticut for Kind Kids/Kind Campus,” said Jennifer Avari, a Newtown resident and the Ben’s Bells team lead. “None of this would have been possible without Jeannette and the entire Ben’s Bells Project’s love and dedication to Newtown and Connecticut.”

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