Schools across San Diego County helped create a culture of kindness in their communities by participating in The Great Kindness Challenge January 25-29, 2016. The Great Kindness Challenge involves one school week devoted to having students, parents, teachers and administrators perform as many acts of kindness for each other and their community as possible. The goal of the Challenge is to increase tolerance and respect for others and create unity and peace on school campuses and in the surrounding community. Two San Diego County schools that held successful events were Albert Einstein Academy Elementary Charter School (AEAECS) and Central School in the National School District.
“As an International Baccalaureate School, we encourage students to take these kindness initiatives outside of school and continue the kindness throughout the day,” said Michelle Guarino, Teacher Support for AEAECS. “When we are kind, our little acts of kindness can have a ripple effect throughout the community.”
Central Elementary School in the National School District also participated in The Great Kindness Challenge.
"This is the second year we’ve participated," said Michelle Manchester, Fourth Grade Teacher at Central Elementary School. “Students were challenged to complete random acts of kindness throughout the week and were asked to take a pledge and sign a poster if they agreed that kindness matters.”
To start each school off right, the Great Kindness Challenge offers an Act of Kindness Checklist with 50 random acts of kindness to explore, including:
In addition to the Acts of Kindness above, the schools hung banners and posters and hosted activities to remind everyone about the importance of kindness. Kindness Tunnels formed by parents welcomed students to school on Monday morning with cheers and kind words. Kids created kindness cards for others, had a Crazy (for Kindness) Hair Day and were treated to a Teacher Flash Mob dance to put students in a joyful mood. To be kind to the earth, parents were even encouraged not to idle when picking up their child after school.
“Students brought office staff flowers, teachers their morning coffee and made Thank You cards for our custodian,” said Guarino. “I know some of these are small, but each time I witnessed a kind act, it made me want to be a better person.”
As a culminating activity for Central Elementary School, each class was asked to create a paper chain of kind acts.
“On the last day the whole school gathered on the playground to join the paper chains they had created,” said Manchester. “The gigantic chain of kindness made the students gasp they were so impressed. The kindness chain helped show how one single act of kindness, one link in the chain, can touch so many other people on campus.”
The Great Kindness Challenge was originally piloted and continues to be supported by Kids for Peace, a nonprofit out of Carlsbad that helps young people engage in leadership, community service, arts, environmental stewardship and global initiatives. Their innovative, grassroots approach has continued to grow in schools across the nation to help create more positive, compassionate and respectful school environments.
In addition to the participation of the individual schools above, the following five Live Well San Diego Recognized Partners have been designated “Kindness Certified School Districts,” including Solana Beach, Encinitas Union, Vista Unified, San Diego Unified, and Escondido Union School Districts.
The Great Kindness Challenge shows all who participate that KINDNESS MATTERS!