Over the years, we’d read about numerous types of “challenges.” The “Polar Bear and Ice Bucket Challenge” is often too cold an endeavor to attempt! The “Hot Pepper Challenge” is, without question, too hot! Perhaps something just right can be found in the arrival of a new movement encouraging us to act with deliberate kindness and purpose. In 2019, the “Great Kindness Challenge” (GKC), reached over 24,000 schools across 110 countries around the globe, impacting over 13 million students. Through its credo, it defines the attributes of kindness: “As kindness chips away at indifference and apathy; kindness creates change. As kindness encounters callousness and cruelty, kindness creates calm. Kindness can help us form the relationships we want with the people we want in a world that makes us proud.” In this month of love and friendship, participants should: ready your smiles, become observers, and continue lifting spirits and filling the world with joy!
The “Spreading Kindness Campaign” challenges local school leaders and teachers to implement a culture of kindness, emphasizing the theme “Everyone Belongs.” Elementary teacher Kathleen Rosenthal writes, “Before we implemented the GKC, we did tend to see some behavioral issues among students. Some of our students struggled with communication and problem-solving challenges. But making kindness more of a focus in our teaching—not just during the GKC week but throughout the year—has really lifted them. We see so much less irritable behavior, and the children can relate to one another better. We champion empathy, and challenge students to always think and imagine how their friends and fellow students are feeling. We teach them self-accountability and encourage them to be leaders in both spreading the kindness and also being kind to themselves.”
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up.” ~ Booker T. Washington
Creative Ideas to Promote Kindness
Starting a GKC month does not take preparation. Children are creative and full of surprising ideas to help classmates, the school community, adults, and the town. Allow children to brainstorm ideas. One good deed daily is the requirement; however, in this form of endeavor, over-achievers engaging in multiple positive acts will encourage others to think, observe, and respond with kindness. Teachers or families may want to create a 28-day challenge workbook or journal.
A few suggestions are:
- Write letters to an admired person, noting positive qualities and offering friendship.
- Create “kind message bookmarks,” using quotes from historical figures, such as Aesop, Dr. Seuss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, the Dalai Lama, and Mother Teresa. At the library, children can also insert a bookmark in their favorite book to offer thoughtfulness to a stranger!
- Establish a station for children to write kindness notes.
- Participate in a painted rock project and find the ideal location for placement.
- Send letters or pictures to people or children in need, who may be in a nursing home or hospital.
- Decide upon a class project within the community. A few suggestions are: picking up trash or planting a tree.
On April 20th, 1999, Rachel Joy Scott was the first casualty in the school shooting at Columbine High School. The friends of Rachel imparted wonderful stories that described her simple acts of kindness. To spread awareness of Rachel’s story and influence, an organization began to promote a positive school climate, reduce violence, and prevent bullying. Today, many schools, including those in Forsyth County, support the message behind’s Rachel’s Challenge.
Annually, Forsyth County schools present “Spirit of Rachel Awards” to students in elementary, middle, and high school. The recipient exemplifies qualities based on five challenges: To see the good in others, dream big, choose positive influences, speak with kindness, and initiate a positive chain reaction.
“Challenges” can inspire new ideas and the goal to become a better person! This February, promise to take the 28-day initiative and integrate it into 365 days!