‘You matter’: Teen’s kind ‘ding dong ditch’ message inspires others

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 2:54 AM CDT
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BRAINERD, Minn. (WCCO) - A teenager in Minnesota made a big impression by offering some kind words in front of a doorbell camera.

Jacksen Proell, 13, was out to buy snacks with friends when they started ding dong ditching some doorbell cameras. But Jacksen decided to do something kind instead.

“I just saw the doorbell camera when we were walking to the gas station, and I just thought maybe I should say something nice to it,” he said.

The teenager approached the doorbell camera and spoke words of wisdom beyond his years.

“You matter, all right? There’s always gonna be someone that cares about you. And you’re a good person. No matter what people say, you matter,” he said. “Whoever you are, you matter to someone. Just keep that in mind. Don’t forget that.”

Jacksen didn’t care who heard his message – just that someone did. In this case, it was Ashley Mann, who was on vacation when her phone got an alert from her doorbell camera.

“Just going through footage and getting rid of notifications, and then, I saw some kids at the doorbell. I watched it, and I was like, ‘Wow, that was really powerful,’” Mann said.

As a mental health guide, Mann helps teenagers and young adults in crisis. She understands the gravity of Jacksen’s words and the impact they can have on someone who’s struggling, so she uploaded the message to TikTok.

“This young kid came up to my random doorbell to just say, ‘Hey, you matter.’ Just wanting to spread kindness and positivity, and it just made me feel like I should do the same thing,” Mann said.

The video quickly went viral, reaching millions across the Internet. One of those views was from Jacksen himself.

“I’m not trying to get famous or something like that. I was just trying to say something nice, and now, this is happening. So, I’m just kind of going with it,” the teenager said.

Jacksen’s message left his mother, Carissa Proell, beaming but not surprised.

“Oh, my heart just expanded so proudly,” she said. “He’s told me before that he’ll stand up for kids, like if he feels somebody’s being singled out or bullied, that he’ll intervene and try to be a distraction so that that kid isn’t so targeted.”

That desire to lift someone’s spirits was clearly Jacksen’s intention, but he likely had no idea just how helpful his words could be.

Most of the TikTok comments were praise for the teen and his parents, but there were also several people saying how much his message struck them, how much they needed to hear it.

“It goes a long way. Reading the comments, some people were like, ‘Hey, my girlfriend broke up with me today. I really needed to hear this,’” Mann said.

“Someone mentioning they were going to commit suicide sometime soon, and then, the video made them change their mind about it,” Jacksen said.

The idea is a heavy thought, but thankfully, some simple words of kindness from a 13-year-old boy were able to help a person in need.

Jacksen and his mom have connected with Mann over TikTok and Facebook. They plan to meet up soon.