By: Michele DiPasquale
Some people hastily swat away and heap verbal scorn upon the simple yet timeless idea of “random acts of kindness.” The term may even seem a bit cliché, even archaic. But in fact, you may notice that when a person is the topic of conversation, most people claim how “nice” that person is before anything else is said about that individual. This happens in business, family, school, and of course social events. So being a “nice person” absolutely matters to most people, including children; in fact, kindness matters so much that it has become a relevant educational topic of positivity and has created a proactive stand taken against bullying.
Bullying can stay with a person their whole life, affecting how they feel about themselves, often causing a lack of self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. As many adults know from their own experiences, bullying frequently victimizes young children and takes place on school grounds, and happens to children who lack the life experience of adults who’ve learned how to verbally defend themselves, and even ignore negativity and take the higher road, so to speak.
Welcome to The Great Kindness Challenge: one week devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible on school grounds at elementary, middle, high schools, and even college campuses.
This year students at Roxbury’s own Kennedy Elementary School participated in the Great Kindness Challenge from January 28th through February 1st by putting their creative skills to work to help spread kindness, consideration, and courtesy.
“Our school is proudly participating in this proactive and positive kindness initiative. Together, we are able to show the world that Kindness Matters,” said Nicole Acevedo, Kennedy Elementary School principal.
To begin the challenge, students receive a GKC checklist, which presents fifty suggestions for good deeds, niceness, and being kind to others. The students will use this throughout the week to challenge themselves to complete the acts of kindness listed. All students who completed their checklist at the end of the week were entered into a drawing to win a Kindness Challenge T-shirt.
Some of the acts of kindness on the GKC checklist are smiling at 25 random students, read a book to a younger child/student, hold the door open for someone, thank a school bus driver for the ride, make a thank-you card for the school librarians, cheer for every player on both teams.
Then throughout the week, the school staff created special pink slips called “Kindness Bucks” (for use in classroom school stores) which were handed to students when school staff witnessed them completing acts of kindness. Additionally, the school held a “Kindness Matters” poster contest to encourage the Kennedy School community that kindness matters. As they constructed their posters, students were asked to consider the following to inspire their unique and individual posters: What is Kindness? How can you show kindness in school, at home, and in the community? How does being kind make the world a more peaceful place to live? Why is it important to be kind?
“I would like to congratulate all of our students who participated. The posters were amazing and truly reflected the meaning of kindness at Kennedy Elementary School and in the community,” Principal Acevedo shared.
The Great Kindness Challenge was founded by Kids for Peace, a global nonprofit organization. What started as a neighborhood group of kids wanting to make the world a better place has grown into an interconnected network of young peacebuilders throughout the world.
The GKC website, www.thegreatkindnesschallenge.com/about/, proclaims a famous quote by the American writer Henry James: “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”