Alberta teen takes on '50 Yard Challenge' to spread kindness in her community

Bella Witt will be spending a lot more time outdoors getting to know her neighbours in Three Hills, Alta.

The 14-year-old has taken on a challenge to mow 50 yards in her community as part of a grassroots volunteer movement that's growing in the United States.

"I’ve always enjoyed helping people and so I thought this would be a really cool new challenge for me," said Witt. 

The 50 Yard Challenge started in Huntsville, Alabama by Rodney Smith Jr, founder of Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service that provides free lawn care for seniors, the disabled, single mothers and veterans. Witt is the ninth Canadian to accept the challenge.

"Since COVID-19 there hasn’t been a lot to do here and I thought why not help people," explained Witt. "There’s so much going on right now and I just want to be a blessing to people who have a hard time."

Smith started the organization in 2015 after he stopped to help an elderly man struggling to cut the grass in his yard. He then decided to mow 40 lawns in between classes while earning his degree in computer science. Just over a month later, he had already reached 100. 

Smith is encouraging kids anywhere in the world to take the challenge and give back to their community with a lawnmower. 

"To see kids get out there and want to do it — no one’s forcing them but that want to do it — it's a beautiful thing ," said Smith.

The challenge is set up like the karate system of coloured belts. After every10 lawns a participant finishes, Smith sends them a different coloured t-shirt to mark the milestone. He has travelled all over the U.S. to meet some of the children who have completed the challenge and has delivered new lawnmowers, weed eaters and blowers. Smith said, so far, no one outside the U.S. has completed the challenge.

The tasks can be completed year round as raking leaves, shovelling snow and cleaning up yards count too. 

"I just want to keep sharing what we’re doing and encourage more kids to take part in it, that’s the goal just to get kids out there involved in the community," said Smith. 

Witt hasn’t set a deadline for when she will finish her challenge but she hopes to inspire other kids to volunteer.