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EXCLUSIVE! All-star cheerleader Brooklynn Riley is spreading kindness one Post-it Note at a time

"Thank you for the sunshine you add to this world. Keep going, I'm happy ur here." 

That's just one of the many unique compliments given by all-star cheerleader (and reigning queen of kindness) Brooklynn Riley, 15, on a daily basis. But if you stumbled upon the sweet comment in the form of a small, neon Post-it Note pasted on your car window, you'd have no idea where the kind words came from—and that's the point. 

"It's a good thing that they receive that message without it being from someone," Brooklynn shares. "People just think, oh, this was meant to come to me." 

Brooklynn is a cheerleader by day, dancing and stunting for both her high school and all-star teams. But by night? She's a budding philanthropist. Making and sharing anonymous Post-it Note messages in her community was once a hobby, but her kindness has quickly become an everyday routine and a social media sensation, lovingly dubbed Stick 2 Kindness. We had the opportunity to talk to Brooklynn about spreading cheer—onstage and off. 

Girls' Life: Tell us a little bit about how you started Stick 2 Kindness.

Brooklynn Riley: So I have been a part of #GivingTuesdaySpark, which is a group of kids that do things specifically for GivingTuesday. I had come up with something little to do on GivingTuesday, along with the toy drives I had been doing. I thought, what if we make cute little notes—Post-it Notes—and stuck them on people's cars? It was just a random idea. We did it one time and I hadn't really thought about it again, but one day very randomly—I'm pretty sure it was actually like 2 a.m.—I thought, what if I actually made this something that I did daily? So it took off from there. I did not imagine it would come this far.

GL: What does kindness mean to you? 

Brooklynn: I think kindness to me is treating others the way that you would want to be treated, and sometimes it can even be going out of your way to show love to other people. I think it's important because, in the world we live in today, I feel like a lot of people struggle with mental health silently. So you never know what someone may be going through throughout their day. Even if you can't actually see it. 

GL: What is your go-to Post-it Note saying? 

Brooklynn: “I'm proud of you." It's just a couple words that a lot of people often need to hear, but don't hear as much as they should. I think those words mean a lot more than you think to someone.

GL: What is one Stick 2 Kindness memory that really stands out to you? 

Brooklynn: So for cheerleading, actually, I went to D2 Summit, which is our biggest competition of the year. There, I received the Varsity Pinnacle award, which they give to an athlete at the competition who shows leadership and selflessness. I think this was really a special, standout moment to me because I was surrounded by all of my teammates and I got to do an interview with one of my coaches that I'm very close to. It showed me that [Stick 2 Kindness] was a lot bigger deal than I think it was. 

GL: What has been the biggest challenge of this project? 

Brooklynn: Definitely one of the biggest challenges is putting the Post-it Notes out in public places, because I try to not let people see me doing it. A lot of patience is required to wait around for people to not be looking or just watching for my safety when putting them on cars. It is also challenging if I have a busy day, because my goal is to try and put one out every day. I try to make sure that I have some opportunity throughout the day to put at least one Post-it Note out.

GL: What kind of feedback have you gotten from Stick 2 Kindness? 

Brooklynn: We get a lot of DMs about the Post-it Notes, but I've gotten messages, emails, and people tagging me in their stories, too. I think some of the best messages are from people that say, "This brought me to tears", or "You have no idea how much I needed this". I even had a message a few days ago from someone they were doing their last round of chemo and they said that Stick 2 Kindness really helped them with it. And I think those type of stories are definitely the most touching.

GL: What advice do you have for other teen girls who want to do good in their communities? 

Brooklynn: The more you do it, the more you realize that there isn't an age limit for making change in your community. Sometimes it's the littlest things—when you see Stick 2 Kindness, it's just some Post-it Notes and a marker. It's inspiring for teens to see that a small household item could make a difference in someone's life. 

GL: If you could talk to her now, what advice would you give your younger self? 

Brooklynn: I would definitely say that helping other people is this really good superpower to have. There's gonna be a lot of people that try to bring you down and dark moments in the world, but there's always some light to look for—and you could always be that light for other people.

GL: And what's next for you?

Brooklynn: I definitely want Stick 2 Kindness to spread worldwide—for people to see it everywhere and even start doing it on their own. I do have a merch line where all of the proceeds are donated to a nonprofit mental health organization, so I'd love to also see that take off. 

Want to see more of Brooklynn's uplifiting Post-it Notes? Check out @stick2kindness_ on Insta!  

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by Katherine Hammer and Laila Mayfield | 8/1/2023