Earlier this week, four women’s tennis players – two from Duke and two from UNC – joined forces at Glenwood Elementary School, speaking to fourth-graders about the importance of good sportsmanship.

They went to Glenwood as part of ACC Sportsmanship Week – but it was also in conjunction with a nonprofit called Compassion It. Founded by UNC grad Sara Schairer (inspired by an episode of “Ellen,” of all things!), Compassion It now reaches into nearly 50 countries, spreading the message of compassion worldwide.

Compassion It’s mission is to inspire us to practice compassion in our daily lives. (They do it with “Compassion It” bracelets – you’re meant to wear them as a reminder to act with compassion every day.) Schairer says compassion is a matter of habit: we begin by consciously thinking about how to be compassionate to others, and eventually it becomes second nature.

Read more about Schairer’s story.

Compassion takes many forms – smiling at a stranger, letting a friend know you’re thinking of them – but Schairer says there are a few general rules to keep in mind. One of the most important is to give people the benefit of the doubt: rather than getting angry with people for their mistakes, put yourself in their shoes and understand that they’re human beings with their own worries and concerns as well. (Did someone cut you off on the highway? Maybe they’re having an emergency, maybe they just had a momentary lapse, but they almost certainly didn’t mean to get in your way.) And ‘giving people the benefit of the doubt’ doesn’t just apply to other people – Schairer says self-compassion is equally important. We become better people when we’re willing and able to recognize our own imperfections (and not beat ourselves up over them).

Another important key, Schairer says, is to be fully present in the current moment: be aware of your surroundings, try to avoid distractions, and if you’re talking to someone, really listen to them.

Sara Schairer spoke with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


Jessie Aney and Rachael James-Baker were the two UNC women’s tennis players who went to Glenwood Elementary this week. Chalena Scholl and Kaitlyn McCarthy were there from Duke.

For more on the Glenwood visit, read Turner Walston’s article on GoHeels.com.

For more on Compassion It, visit CompassionIt.com.