rebelling against low expectations

Caitlin Haacke, Age 17: Founder of Positive Post-It Day, TEDx Speaker


(Airdrie City View) — Caitlin Haacke said she can’t believe how much opportunity has come her way from the simple act of spreading kindness and positivity. Haacke’s latest opportunity is an invitation to give a TEDx Teen Talk in New York City on May 16.

“I’m really, really excited. Doing a TED talk has always been my dream and then TEDx contacted my family and asked if I’d come do a talk for them,” she said. “I’m super excited for it. It’s one of those crazy popular events.”

Haacke, who turned 17 on April 30, turned an act of bullying into a positive movement when she posted messages anonymously on 850 sticky notes on school lockers at George McDougall High School on Oct. 6, 2014. That act inspired Positive Post-It Day on Oct. 9, 2014, an event Haacke said will be held each year on the first Monday in October.

( Read more about the beginning of Positive Post-It Day on ABC11 )

Since then, she has been recognized in the House of Commons by MP Blake Richards, has appeared on the Meredith Vieira Show and was invited to speak at a school in Japan.

The TEDx Teen talks are independently-organized events that grew out of the TED talks. TED stands for technology, entertainment, design and speakers at the annual event have included names like Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall and Bono. The events are held live and streamed online. Haacke said the organizers found out about her advocacy work through the media coverage she’s received.

“I’ll be speaking for just under 20 minutes, and my topic is going to be how positivity and kindness can help put an end to bullying,” she said.

Haacke has just returned from Toronto where she was invited to speak at three schools. One of the schools held fundraisers to pay for part of her trip.

“Originally (the schools) heard about my story through the media. I’d been contacted through my Facebook page and invited to speak via Skype to a group of girls,” she said. “We did the video and that sparked the idea to get me there.”

While in Toronto, Haacke also put on what she calls a Kindness Campaign, during which she handed out thousands of items with positive messages on them to individuals on the streets of Toronto.

Haacke said she couldn’t believe how much her simple idea has grown.

“When I originally did it, I did it anonymously and I set out to put up Post-Its and let people be excited about it,” she said. “It was supposed to be for one day and no one would ever know if was me. I never saw it coming to where it is now. With the next Positive Post-It Day coming up on (Oct. 5), I’m starting to get more and more people contacting me about doing Post-It Day in their schools. It’s absolutely crazy what it’s become.”

“Even though I’ve gotten some awards and recognition, it’s never been about that. It’s been about taking positivity and kindness and putting a stop to bullying. It just happens I’m off to New York for it,” she said.

Haacke will graduate from high school early in December and said she then plans to take a year off to travel before returning to attend the University of Calgary to get a degree in political science and a doctorate in law. Her ultimate goal remains – as always – to be Prime Minister of Canada.

“I’m sticking with the same goal so far,” she said.

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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


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  • I like the idea of something so small becoming something so big, but the article was a little frustrating. No offense, but it seems like you could have put a lot more information about what she actually did, and why it’s important. Maybe I just didn’t get it, but I’m not seeing much.

  • I love how it is the simplest things that change the world. I love the quote “some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but I have found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep darkness at bay, acts of kindness and love”-Gandalf.

  • How inspiring! It’s amazing how these simple messages could result in such opportunity. I guess it shows just how starved the world is for messages like this, and how easy it is for us to overlook this need. (This reminds me of the story of Arthur Stace, a man who went around writing “Eternity” on the streets of Sydney. Encouraging people to think about eternity is something we often forget to do…)

  • I wonder if she would’ve gotten expended or sued if she posted 850 sticky notes on school lockers with Bible verses around the topic of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (because kindness and positivity alone cannot wash anyone’s sins away, nor will bullying stop unless people become born-again). Just a thought, inspired by Rich Christiano’s film, ‘Time Changer.’

  • I doubt this will do much to stop bullying .. but I think it could go a long, long way to making it bearable.

  • I remember something a great Christian lady who was a board member at a co-op I attended said to me. I told her about some kids that were saying some mean things to me, and she said “Remember to kill them with kindness”. That has been a phrase I will always remember.

  • Firstly, this girl did not create this postive post it movement. It began many years ago, and in fact a young 8 year old from PEI began ” Post it Positive” sound familar nice name flip. As well another Canadian group began at a university, as well Singer Shawn Mendes created it as well. Secondly, who in this world truly believes Some child broke into her locker during school hours, took an ipad or tablet out, logged onto her personal facebook, posted a bullying message, then put the tablet back, and locked the locker? The RCMP certainly did not buy the story I am certain, and neither did the school. Any time you make the big bad school system look like bullies of course the wide world internet is going to say Oh this poor girl. My husband works for the school in question and the statements made by this family never happened, and in fact truth be told, Ms Prater Haacke has been accused of bullying other students in her own school, and it has had to be addressed. My husband and the other school staff never told Ms Prater Haacke to remove the notes, this was all said in the name of fame and attention as is the majority of this cockamine story. While we applaud any positive action in a community, awarding this girl and her family trips to New York and Japan, based on a fabricated lie, is ethically wrong. This family has gone public attacking others who originally helped bring this movement into play and once there was a good sizable following, suddenly they attacked and defamed the Airdrie mothers who gave up time and energy to help get the movement the attention. The family has accepted thousands of dollars in gifts and money, and to date, by their own admission donated 200 of their own money to a charity. There have been numerous complaints to media and to community members abut the family defaming and attacking many community members and other similar campaigns if they do not cooperate with this family. While we all applaud our children being shown positive alternatives, I know how much this affected my husband and my children in seeing someone who very clearly is not an honest person, going public and portraying herself and her family to be heroes when in fact, they are anything but. Judgement will come one day I am certain.

    • deanna, it is entirely possible that someone did break into her locker. i mean, if there was a Facebook app on her tablet, then it is already logged into your personal account. Believe what you want, but i dont think she is lying.

  • This is Awesome! I like how she didn’t do it just to be popular. She did it to be encouraging. This is inspiring. And this holiday mentioned should continue.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →