Meet Nahla Summers, the founder of Sunshine People, for her 2020 challenge will set about breaking a World Record on an ElliptiGO bike. Over a four-month period, she will be travelling over 5000 miles visiting every city in the UK.
It’s probably not the time to say but there is nothing better I love than to sit with a book curled on a large comfy seat with warmth around me. Heading out on mountains and cycling through rain is a step far from the ideal life I love so much but, here I am about to set off on an ElliptiGO bike on my next adventure for four months.
My cause, unlike others, is not focused on raising money for a chosen cause or charity. I am not an adventurer driven by personal gains and growth. Neither am I driven from the adrenaline. I am driven by a desire to start a conversation on kindness and the crazier the challenge it is, the better the springboard that allows me a platform to talk about why and how we can change the world with a single act.
So each challenge, I do I ask people to simply show support not by donating money but, instead of, by going and doing an act of kindness for a stranger and share the act of kindness to the website to make it count towards the collective movement. A ‘Just giving’ page but with a conscience, one that does not discriminate against or judge you for what you can or cannot give.
HOW DID ALL START?
Back in March 2012. It was a sunny but cool morning when I dropped my partner off for a charity cycle ride. Two hours later, he called me to say he thought he was having a heart attack. It would be the last conversation he would ever have.
There are moments that followed on that day that will forever be embedded in my mind, the moment the doctor said the words, ‘His life has expired’. The wails that came from me but sounded as if they came from someone else. The moment the nurse sobbed because she knew they had tried so hard to save him but had to see my grief unfold anyway. The whispers from nurses as I lay on the floor, unable to speak, unable to cry, barely able to hold onto the breath.
When this moment happens, you wish didn’t have to happen in the journey of human existence, but it does and when you know that; you, in some ways become free.
Time passed by and I stayed confined to the place we called our dream home by the sea. I could barely handle people being in the house. I was living with the ghost of him and so having people there felt as though maybe they might push him out.
One day, some months into my own confinement, the sun was setting into the sea and I made it outside to the beach. The sand was compact, and the sky lit up with the orange and yellows as it fell into the sea. The sea was far out and the on the sand a man on a horse was trotting in figures of eight backwards. It was mesmerising. However, I could only see darkness even amongst this beauty. A man walking his dog arrived beside me, asked if the horse was mine and proceeded to share his life stories of hope and love. He had worked with horses in America, he knew the power of healing that they had. After about 10 minutes his phone rang, and he went off in the direction that arrived. It was then that I started to walk home, and I realised that I could see a glimmer of light in the darkness, at that moment, with that stranger it felt defining, I just didn’t know how at the time.
It was that 10 minutes of kindness that became the catalyst for me six months later climbing Kilimanjaro and in turn £14,000 was raised in memory of my partner. When I asked the charity afterwards what we could do with the money they said that it had ‘gone into the big pot’. In those moments I realised I made a mistake, I had made his memory about money and that was not what our relationship was about and it was not representing the 10 minutes of kindness that gave me some light in the darkness.
So, I decided to carry on doing challenges but instead of asking people for money, I would ask them to do an act of kindness for a stranger instead. We often focus on raising sponsorship money, but I wanted to prove that kindness has more power than money.
BEGINNING OF A NEW SUNSHINE: RESEARCHER OF KINDNESS
So that is where my social movement Sunshine People was born from. As it grew and my challenges got more public interest I became what I affectionately like to term as ‘The accidental researcher of kindness’, I was being gifted kindness stories, research, memes, books from all over the world as well as travelling the world myself seeking out examples of extraordinary people.
Kindness is seen as something fluffy, just an action or something you encourage in school playgrounds. However, the research highlights it is more than that, it is a complex web of values that underpins the way we choose to behave as a society.
From my research, I discovered that Kindness has seven main values that are, Gratitude, Empathy, Integrity, Time, Trust, Compassion and Courage. They each hold a story of importance and how we deliver that in our daily life and spread around us, will help us to move into a new dawn.
“If happiness is what we are all seeking, then kindness is the action to get us there”.