Tristan Kennedy and his mom Naya Kahout never imagined the little project they started to make the first COVID-19 lock-down a little more tolerable would ever amount to much.
The pair would scour websites and joke books for a chuckle every morning, and then place the funniest one they came across on a pair of signposts in the front yard.
A set-up would be at one end of the property, and the punchline at the other, so passers-by could have a laugh while out getting some exercise.
Once the project wound up, they decided to place all the jokes – and the illustrations which accompanied them – into a joke book.
Now the book, A Reason to Smile, has sold more than 500 copies all across the country, in addition to a few places in the United States; and as far away as England, France and Denmark
“We even sent one to Dr. Bonnie Henry,” Kahout said, “It was our gift to her, as Tristan really wanted to make sure she could smile.”
The books have been used in elementary schools, with a joke being read every morning over the PA system for morning announcements, and in classrooms, Kahout added.
They are also being shared the same way in a couple care-homes, she said.
“Bringing those most isolated, at least one smile in their day,” she noted.
“We’ve even had photos sent from those residents holding their books proudly.”
It has been used as an example in a middle school’s global change makers class, showing positive impacts through small acts, and on Sunday, Kahout said they received an order from Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto for books to help bring smiles to their patients and staff.
The mother and son have learned a lot through the experience.
“Personally we’ve gained a new appreciation for all self-published authors, and the publishing industry in general,” Kahout said.
“We’ve learned of some little-known towns and used it as an opportunity to teach Tristan about the geography of our country. We have been so privileged to “meet” so many wonderful people through their book orders, and hear the stories they’ve shared with us.
“We are still so humbled by how something as simple as trying to make someone smile through a joke has actually had the power to do so.”
Many more smiles will now be generated through their work with local charities.
Proceeds of the book will benefit Ridge Meadows Seniors’ Society and the Friends in Need Food Bank.
“They will now be able to share almost $6,000 from the profits of the book,” Kahout said. “Just thinking about that brings a great big smile to our faces!”