There’s something so special about how children take to the concept of kindness. It shows how innate kindness is in our being – that even the youngest of children “get it” and gravitate toward the pure pleasure of doing something nice for someone else. It also provides an opportunity for grown-ups to learn from our young people, to see the world through the eyes of a child and how beautiful that world can be if we make it that way.
When the little students at Discovery Primary School took part in The Great Kindness Challenge for a full week in April, good deeds and thoughtfulness ruled the school, and motivated the children to follow their school’s AIM rules: “Always be respectful. I can solve problems. Make responsible choices.” A culture of kindness was made real through a total of 10,109 acts of kindness in all done during that week, according to Discovery librarian Jeanne Berg who, along with school counselor Debbie Hartigan and Discovery Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) members, comprised the Kindness Committee.
“They were totally into it,” Berg said of the students’ enthusiasm.
Part of a world-wide event, the Challenge was put forth by Kids for Peace and the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation to empower students – and parents – to carry forth the virtues of kindness all year long and enjoy the giving and receiving of acts of selflessness. According to statistics at www.TheGreatKindnessChallenge.org, more than 10 million students at more than 15,000 schools in 91 countries worldwide participated this year, resulting in a whopping 524,693,300 acts of kindness.
At Discovery, the Challenge was launched with an all-school assembly to get students, staff and teachers on board and discuss the three categories of challenges they would participate in: at-home challenges, all-school challenges and classroom challenges. Students were sent home with a list of 30 acts of kindness and were challenged to do as many as they could in one week such as “hug your sibling(s) or pets,” “set or clear the dinner table,” “leave a card or picture on parent’s pillow” and “learn to say ‘thank you’ in a new language,” to name just a few. The class with the most acts of kindness “homework” received a Kindness Reward Party sponsored by the Kindness Committee.
In addition, the students were asked to help advertise kindness throughout their school by creating a kindness poster, and 124 were made in all.
As for the in-school kindness challenges, each day a principal challenge and recess challenge were announced ranging from sharing and giving compliments to drawing chalk smiley faces on the pavement outside. Classrooms were given a stash of “smile cards” for students to give to each other when they caught someone doing something kind, and a kindness tree was set up on which teachers could attach paper leaves bearing messages of kindness.
Even the school custodians got into it and came up with a “Golden Dust Pan” award for classrooms what were kept the most tidy. “The kids really got into that and even brought in wet wipes to clean the floor,” Berg said.
At the end of the week, rewards and awards were given, but every student was a winner in having learned the power of kindness and how the simplest of acts can make big changes when we all band together for good things.