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Play it forward

Twenty-year-old Tahoe native Derek Cyr is part of an international movement to change the world three favors at a time. And he’s ready to start with South Shore.

Cyr organized a screening of the movie “Pay It Forward,” starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment, at Strange Brew coffee house Saturday night, to promote the movie’s theme of showing random acts of kindness.

After the movie, Cyr and about 20 Tahoe residents discussed how they can care for their community by lending a helping hand to strangers and asking those people to pass a favor along to three other strangers.



“I’m not saying we’ll change the world in the next two weeks,” Cyr said. “But at least we’ll start the idea for people who haven’t been thinking about anyone besides themselves. This should be a completely positive place to start this because it’s paradise. Hollywood even knows it, Tahoe. We need to be on it.”

Cyr came up with the idea after he saw the movie and accessed The Pay It Forward Foundation Web site created by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the book on which the movie was based.



“‘Pay It Forward’ is a book, but it’s also an idea,” Hyde wrote on the foundation Web site. “It’s an action plan within a work of fiction. But does it have to be fiction? We’re hoping not.”

The 12-year-old hero of “Pay It Forward,” Trevor, develops this kindness action plan for an extra-credit project on how to change the world.

“You see, I do something real good for three people,” Trevor says. “And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to pay it forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do 27 … See how big it gets?”

Since the movie was released last November, thousands of people from New York to Australia have joined the foundation and hundreds of schools have incorporated the idea into their curriculums.

From giving senior citizens flowers to planting community gardens and painting intercity murals, kindergartners to college students have paid it forward.

“I think the world’s changing in consciousness right now,” Cyr said. “Instead of capitalism, it’s time to help our neighbors and spread everything out to make things more equal. Strangers can be amazing when you show them random acts of kindness.”


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