KENNETT SQUARE>>Nancy Pia doesn’t believe in the pursuit of happiness.

“If you are pursuing something, it’s not there,” she said. “I like to say we create our own happiness.”

International Day of Happiness is Friday, March 20, and Pia is chairing the Happiness Project at the Kennett Area YMCA. Her goal is to spread happiness through education, healthy living and social connections. The Kennett Y was selected as one of just a few YMCAs in the country to operate a pilot program entitled “Togetherhood.”

Pia called happiness the original American dream, and said workers are much more productive when they are happy.

“Happiness is the most Googled word,” she said, and in the past six months, more than 1,000 books have been written on the topic. It’s something we all cherish, something we all want.”

Pia said it’s important to teach children the value of how nutrition and happiness go together. Earlier this month, Unionville Elementary School hosted a presentation on healthy foods .

“Health and happiness go hand-in-hand,” she said. “We have to teach the kids, not the parents. Children dictate what they want to have in their lunch. We try to educate children, who will educate the parents. If you give them almond butter on a piece of an apple for breakfast, their bodies will function better, their brain will function better. But if you give them a bowl of sugary cereal, they will not be happy, their blood sugar will drop in mid-morning, and they will be unfocused, angry.”

Better nutrition, in addition to making people feel good, helps them to live longer, Pia said.

On Friday, students at Unionville Elementary School, who recently received 400 take-out boxes, donated by Catherine’s Restaurant in Unionville, will bring them back in to school filled with healthy happy foods to bring to lunch.

Also on Friday, the Kennett Y will have free laughing yoga meditation, Happy Hour, a free showing of the film “Happy,” and free hugs. Some coffee shops in Kennett Square will feature pay-it-forward, where customers pay for the people behind them. The Kennett Library will feature books that have to do with happiness.

In May, there will be a “Happy Days” girls’ lacrosse game featuring Unionville and Kennett. Though they are rivals, teams will be assigned randomly, so Unionville and Kennett player will be mixed. “This is all about connections,” Pia said. “Social connections mean so much to being happy.”

Raising awareness about happiness is something Pia is happy to spread to people young and old in the community.

“It’s a pretty hot topic now, worldwide,” Pia said. “It’s going on everywhere, it’s huge in the UK and on the West coast, just not in Kennett Square.”

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