This App 'Brightens' People's Days With Anonymous Compliments

It's never been easier to make someone smile.

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What if brightening someone's day was just a click away? Well, now it is. More than just a quick and impersonal "like" on social media, the Brighten app allows users to send personalized compliments to one another anonymously. Not only can you send a positive and loving message with just a few thumb taps, but the recipient can share their immediate response with a reaction picture. 

Austin Kevitch, now 25, came up with the original idea for the Brighten app after losing his friend Oliver Pacchiana in a rock climbing accident. Watching as the people in Pacchiana's life covered his Facebook wall with positive and loving messages, Kevitch realized how much all those kind words would have meant to Pacchiana when he was alive. "Just hearing one of those comments could change your life," Kevitch told The Huffington Post. "I learned a lot about him just from what people were sharing. It was a wake-up call that the world needs something like [Brighten]." 

He decided people shouldn't wait to share their love and appreciation for one another until it was too late. We use our phones every day to fulfill our physical needs of food, water, and shelter, so why not order use this ubiquitous tool to fulfill our emotional needs as well? 

Kevitch imagined a world in which anyone could wake up and, amidst all their regular social media notifications, would find a personalized compliment that would brighten their whole day. Then, he created it. 

Released in 2015, Brighten has since been downloaded more than 1 million times. The app and its positive message have become so popular, educators have begun integrating it into anti-bullying curriculums. Two third-grade teachers in Bridgewater, N.J., Lauren Naselli and Courtney Rothkugel, have found creative ways to teach the Brighten concept to their shared class since last year. Each day, she gave a different group of students a piece of paper featuring a hand-drawn iPhone each. 

On the iPhone's screen, the students would write their own "brightens" — the app's name for its compliments — and give them to other students. "They loved it. It created a warm and comfortable environment," Naselli told the publication. "Our class really lifted each other up and supported one another."

But the Brighten-ing effect isn't stopping there. Most recently, the app partnered with Sandy Hook Promise, the gun violence prevention organization, for Start With Hello Week. During the weeklong endeavor to combat social isolation, more than 1,700 schools will introduce their students to Brighten. 

That's an important step in the right direction, as a 2015 survey conducted by the Department of Education showed that more than 20 percent of middle and high school students report being bullied. Young people interested in combating these statistics firsthand can also apply to be a Student Brighten Rep who will "spark the movement" at their schools.

Kevitch is hopeful about Brighten's both immediate and potential impact on safety in education. "It's all about establishing a positive culture," he concluded. "I think it's going to benefit the current generation of high schoolers." The app's already benefitted countless others of all age ranges and is sure to brighten the days of many more in the future.   

(H/T: The Huffington Post)

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