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Oswego Woman Offers Encouragement with White Board on Michigan Avenue

Lauren Lawson is ‘The Girl With the White Board’

Editor's Note: Lauren Lawson has been chosen as Huffington Post's Greatest Person of the Day. The series features stories of people across the nation who are making a difference in their community. Congratulations, Lauren!

How can a small white board and a black marker change the world? One person at a time, that's how.

And that's what Lauren Lawson of Oswego has set out to do as she makes her way to Chicago's Michigan Avenue every weekend to stand from noon to 4 p.m. with a whiteboard bearing words of encouragement for thousands of passersby like Do something meaningful, Remember your worth, and Inspiration is contagious.

“My hope is to inspire people walking by to become their own biggest fan and to be able to champion any cause they come across,” Lawson, 22, said. “And for those who don’t have a lot of optimism, I hope to help them gain some or if they forgot where they left it, hopefully they can find it.”

If approached, the Aurora University student will take a moment to speak with those who are curious.

And many are.

“I’ve talked to so many people — hundreds of people,” Lawson said. “I’ve had a few stop and ask if I was a protester. Absolutely not. Many will stop and say ‘Tell me what this is about.’ So I go through the story.”

She also carries business cards directing people to her website, where she blogs about her experience, and to her Facebook and Twitter pages.

Her website allows people to post comments, and in them, many laud Lawson for her project.

  • “I walked by you on Friday and jumped on my phone to identify what thegirlwiththewhiteboard was,” posted one commenter. “This is an awesome project and I’m really looking forward to reading more of your posts.”
  • “This is such a cool project! Your message was great because I sometimes do “forget my worth”. I thank you for inspiring people that you don’t even know,” posted another.
  • “This is so beautiful! I saw you today in Chicago, but didn’t get the change to stop and talk,” said another. “I really admire what you’re doing and wish you nothing but the best. Thank you for everything that you’re doing!”

“So far the reception has been enormous,” Lawson said. “I was nervous the Thursday before I started, thinking people wouldn’t take notice. But it’s completely the opposite. The website has been exploding.”

She has had others share their own encouragement projects, similar to Lawson’s.

“It’s nice to see, especially when you look at our world right now,” she said. “With so many bad things going on, it’s nice to know there is so much positive energy still out there. I think we forget that. We’re so consumed by global problems we don’t realize many people are doing great things.”

Lawson isn’t letting the frigid temperatures keep her from her project.

“I did shiver this past weekend,” she said. “I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. I hope that shows people it means that much to me. I don’t care — if I shiver for four hours, I’ll survive.”

She is already contemplating her next project. Some ideas are having another whiteboard initiative allowing others to join her with their own encouraging messages, or doing the project in a different area.

“I’m definitely not going to let this be the most important thing I do with my life,” Lawson said. “I’m way too hungry to stop here. I want to continue to make an influence no matter what.”

Jackie MacAdam Peck December 10, 2011 at 01:50 PM
PMA girl! That's awesome!! I love to see young people w/ such a strong positive mental attitude!!
Evelyn Santiago December 10, 2011 at 02:05 PM
You are destined for great things Ms. Lawson. It's wonderful to see someone your age be so wise. You must be an old soul sent to teach others. I look forward to seeing how you continue to change our world!
Brad Polley December 10, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Very cool. Great idea.
Judy Siedlecki December 10, 2011 at 03:49 PM
You are an inspiration to us all! It does only take one person to make a difference and look how many lives you are touching in a positive way! You Go Girl!
Pat Gavros December 10, 2011 at 07:39 PM
I must say this is "awesome"! Sometimes, all it takes is to remind people about what's really important. So many people are running around, from here to there, lost in the frenzied activities of "unimportant, extraneous" things that fill their precious days with insignificance. In this complex world it takes a lot of conscious effort to keep our priorities straight. This young woman is certainly doing that. Kudos to Ms. Lawson and God Bless!
Connie Dennis December 27, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Add this wonderful endeavor to other inspirational things Lauren has done! The work she has done with her friend, Becca Wheeler, to create Miles 4 Matt, a Suicide Prevention 5K Run/Walk has been a healing help to many in the Oswego community and beyond. Thank you Lauren! Connie Dennis

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