Changing the world using a hoola hoop? It's a story we first told you about last year. Now the local woman with so much faith in this bold idea, has quit her job to do it full time.
Her mission to help bring smiles across the globe is "What's Right with Tampa Bay."
They aren't your average hoola hoopers. Volunteer Elizabeth Carter said, "It's a lot of fun. It's more than just hoola hooping around your waist which is what most people think hool hooping is. There's a lot of dance incorporated into it."
As the hoops circle their bodies, the volunteers circle the globe, sharing their mission with others in more than a dozen nations. Carissa Caricato is the founder of Hoola for Happiness. She quit her job to pursue her mission fulltime.
"We have been to Haiti and Africa, Cambodia. Just got back from India for the second time."
The non-profit based in Tampa has an important goal, she said.
"Our mission is for the joy of hooping and the love of God, all over the world, one hoop at a time, one life at a time."
She's seen firsthand, how the simple tool can help light up the lives of others.
"I've been in Africa before where elderly women, you'd think they'd never smile and they'll pick up a hoop and they're just laughing like crazy and it's just really, really cool to watch."
Chief Operating Hoola-gan Sarah Page raised money to help fund her first mission to Haiti.
"It was a beautiful country, beautiful people and it was just a life-changing event for me and when I came back I just knew that this is what I wanted to do as long as I could."
Their message seems to have the right spin, especially with children.
"They learn to share, they have a lot of fun, smiles break out, they show you their tricks and now, for the first time ever, someone's noticing them, someone's paying attention to them and congratulating them and it's just really fun to be able to do that together," explained Caricato.
Just watching them in action puts a smile on your face. It's easy to see why Hoops for Happiness is shaking up lives here in our community and beyond.
"We want to use the hoop as a tool to build friendships and meaningful relationships and restore joy that has been lost in many of the dark places around the world."
The group is planning on making their own hoops to distribute at all the places they visit so that the people there can continue to hoola hoop even after they're gone.
If you're interested in getting involved in Hoola for Happiness, check out their website http://hoolaforhappiness.org/.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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