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New Orleans business owner shows kindness to bullying victim

"We wanted to make sure that the world knew that little random acts of kindness can go out and change the world,” said New Orleans bookstore owner DJ Johnson.

ABBEVILLE, La. — Social media can be a tool used for good, and it has been. Some share their lives and their biggest moments. 

Sometimes, it's how you alert Eyewitness News to your stories. It was through social media that I was alerted to a story that had gone viral about a young man named Tay'shawn Landry who lives in Abbeville, a city in Vermillion Parish.

In what some Abbeville High School students considered a senior prank, a video surfaced of students riding in the electronic wheelchair Tay’shawn uses at school, mocking him and those with special needs. Tay'shawn has cerebral palsy, it’s a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. 

When Tay’shawn caught wind of the video, he was devastated and so was his family. His mom shared a passionate message about their heartbreak on social media that was shared hundreds of times.

The message made its way to New Orleans and prompted local business owner, DJ Johnson, to reach out. He’d invited Tay’shawn and his family to his bookstore, Baldwin and Co., for no other reason than to show kindness.

“We saw the story and we wanted to make sure that the world knew that little random acts of kindness can go out and change the world,” said Johnson.

He enlisted the help of Baldwin and Co.'s regular customers, prompting them to share words of kindness and encouragement on a board at the entryway of the coffee shop.

Some would say kindness has become a lost art, especially on social media.

The surgeon general of the United States recently released a 25-page report calling for more research into social media's impact on youth mental health. The advisory finds social media presents a "profound risk of harm," for kids.

With that in mind, Johnson enlisted the help of a therapist to give Tay’shawn and his family an outlet.

“Kindness can go a long way,” says Lindsey Jennings of Brightside Therapy Collective. “That's all we have, that's the one thing left untouched by social media or by technology and the way we interact with the world.”

Tay’shawn and his family also received a gift of many books. Clothes were donated to Tay’shawn by an organization based in Atlanta, Georgia called, “Caring for Others.”

They rounded out their day of kindness with a lunch fit for a king, a special request by Tay'shawn of steak and potatoes. Seated around the table with his family, and his new friends.

Two women from the Abbeville community set up a GoFundMe for Tay’shawn after the loaner wheelchair that was used in the video wouldn’t charge. The GoFundMe is to assist in purchasing a wheelchair of his own.

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