Pay it Forward (JT Robertson)

JT Robertson

Alfred State College nursing students welcomed Jon Thomas (JT) Robertson, 11, of Cuba, to one of their classes early in the fall semester to help them kick off the caring project in nursing. The caring project is an outgrowth of the "pay it forward" concept (from the movie by the same name) which promotes the practice of helping others, while expecting nothing in return.

The caring aspect of that concept prompted ASC Associate Professor of Nursing Linda Panter to incorporate it into the nursing program. The caring project at the senior level in nursing requires ASC nursing students to create and implement an individual caring project to assist with the caring aspect within the nursing profession. Nursing faculty teach students how to use caring words and caring touch, but how do they ensure that the students "get" it? They send them into the community to initiate whatever activity gives them the heart felt feeling.

When JT was asked what advice he could share with the nursing students, he said, "go with your gut; follow your passion and your heart." Robertson, a fan of the Arcade-Attica Railroad, initiated the "Make a Difference" project in Cuba, to enable less fortunate children to enjoy riding that train as much as he does. His plan, ambitious for any age, let alone a then-10-year-old, was to collect enough cans and bottles to buy as many train fares as he could.

Robertson and a friend, Josh Tsujimoto, collected 14,000 cans and raised nearly $1,000-enough to treat 84 kids and their adult chaperones to a two-hour train ride on the Arcade and Attica Railroad. Robertson has been featured on the cover of USA WEEKEND Magazine and has appeared on Good Morning America. As a part of USA WEEKEND's Make a Difference Day campaign, actor Paul Newman has donated $10,000 to the project (under the guardianship of Cattaraugus County United Way) to be used to fund other projects initiated by children. Robertson has established a committee called The Crew which is responsible for deciding which applications will be funded.