WEAKLEY COUNTY (January 25) – The Great Kindness Challenge is once again spreading its way across Weakley County as students are reminded “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Students will join 15 million youth in 115 countries for the 10th annual focus on kindness this week, January 25-29.
The Great Kindness Challenge, presented by the global nonprofit Kids for Peace, was launched with three Carlsbad, California, schools in 2012 to address bullying and to foster connection, inclusion and compassion. The annual program has multiplied in enrollment each year, having grown to over 15 million students in 30,000 schools, reaching across all 50 states and 115 countries.
Primary, elementary and middle schools in the area are approaching the week in age-appropriate ways.
Martin Primary will dress to fit daily themes such as “We Don’t Hide from Kindness” (camo) and “We Stand United to Be Kind” (red, white and blue). The Pre-K through 2nd graders will receive a 28 Day Kindness Challenge activity sheet with suggestions for simple acts such as “Let a classmate go first” and “Invite a student to play with you.”
Sunglasses, superheroes, camo, tie dye and sports attire will help Sharon students highlight messages such as “Shine Bright for Kindness” and “Peace, Love and Kindness.”
Dresden Elementary is offering the chance to dress up and challenging the students with an easy-to-do task such as smiling at 10 people or complimenting 5. They are given an extra challenge each day of writing a note or card to significant people such as teachers, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers.
Martin Elementary started early with treats made for other schools and member of the Board of Education and cards to be delivered to area nursing homes and convalescent facilities. The fire and police departments are also receiving treats.
“We wanted to do something this year for our community more so that we have done before,” explained Patresa Rogers, principal. “We will have dress up days and celebrate kindness within our walls as well.”
Martin Middle School Nurse Kristen Leech is promoting the week with a bulletin board that will feature students’ writing or drawings on the subject. Not only are the students encouraged to draw from a checklist of possible kind acts for the week, the teachers have a list as well such as “tell your class three things you appreciate about them” or “send a secret note to a staff person that inspires you.”
MMS Librarian Stephanie Virgin is taking advantage of the week of kindness coinciding with School Board Appreciation Week and is helping the Publications Club produce and post on social media a video of kind comments of appreciation for WCS Director Randy Frazier and the Board.
Dresden Middle School is also encouraging the use of the checklist provided by The Great Kindness Challenge which has adapted this year’s suggestions to socially distanced ideas. Wave at 25 people, make a kindness poster for cafeteria workers, and listen to your teacher the first time are examples. Each homeroom will include gratitude jars and hear a daily quote to inspire them. A fundraiser with monies collected going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is also planned.
School-wide, Gleason School will be writing thank you notes, picking up trash and cleaning up spaces, giving compliments, interacting with someone not normally a part of their circle of friends, and helping someone in need.
“Reinforcing the need for kindness in the world is essential whether you are in a pandemic or not,” said Frazier regarding the importance of continuing the challenge. “We really do focus on the whole child and kindness is certainly a means for social and emotional well-being. In fact, we adults could learn a lot from the children.”
The Great Kindness Challenge was launched by the grassroots organization Kids for Peace, a global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Kids for Peace was co-founded in 2006 by Danielle Gram, a high school honors student and Jill McManigal, a mother and former elementary school teacher. In 2011, the elementary school that McManigal’s children attended asked Kids for Peace to help create a more positive, unified and respectful school environment and the result was The Great Kindness Challenge.