Two Million Students Unite To Perform One Hundred Million Acts Of Kindness

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groupkidsYouth worldwide will transform their schools during The Great Kindness Challenge, a trailblazing initiative brought to you by Kids for Peace.

Kids for Peace today announced that over two million students will unite in kindness for the 2015 Great Kindness Challenge, taking place in schools all over the world January 26-30th. The Great Kindness Challenge was created in 2011 to address school bullying and to promote healthy relationships. In 2012, the program officially launched in Carlsbad, CA with 3 schools and 1,614 students. The yearly program has quadrupled in enrollment each year, having grown to schools in all 50 states and 47 countries.

Schools and students are drawn to the program for its positive and proactive approach to creating kinder school climates through a simple checklist of 50 Kind Acts. The checklist is distributed to students at the beginning of The Great Kindness Challenge Week. Students are encouraged to complete each kind act over the course of the week, as well as take part in additional service and community-building activities. Schools that participate are provided a downloadable toolkit, printable checklists and support from The Great Kindness Challenge team, all at no cost.

Charlotte DeWitt, a school counselor at Central Primary in Arkansas explains, “I was just tired of saying ‘Bully, bully, bully all the time. I wanted to do something with kindness at our school, and then I found The Great Kindness Challenge. I said to our administration, ‘This is what we need to do.’ And The Great Kindness Challenge makes it so easy.” Now in their second year, Central Primary is planning for another week focusing on kindness, and will have community members on hand for a kick-off rally, assemblies and talks on kindness throughout the week.

Jill McManigal, founder & creator of The Great Kindness Challenge, explains, “We know to truly transform school cultures, we must include the entire campus. That is why we have kind acts that honor and celebrate principals, guidance counselors, office staff, car pool drivers, crossing guards, volunteers, custodians, teachers and of course, students. We honor the whole school community with kindness and respect.”

Principals agree and have promoted the program with incentives for the students. Chad Lund, principal of Jefferson Elementary in Carlsbad — one of the founding Great Kindness Challenge schools – is taking his encouragement to new heights. Lund has promised to skydive out of an airplane with a “Kindness Matters” banner if all his students complete their checklists.

Schools across the nation will open their doors on Monday morning with “Community Kindness Tunnels” where children will be welcomed by police officers, firefighters, mayors, military personnel, PTA members and volunteers with handmade banners and kind cheers. “It’s magic,” said one student. “It’s my favorite week of the year.”

At Roan Creek Elementary in Tennessee, students will be honoring the 50 Act Checklist with a 50’s themed dress-up day and each morning throughout the entire week, a student will read a motivational and kind quote to start the day. Students at Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet in Minnesota will be surprised with inspirational “Post It” note messages on their lockers. Hope Elementary in California will host a school-wide Kindness Coat Drive for a homeless shelter and complete their 50 kind acts at daily recess Kindness Stations.

While the excitement is large, it is the simple acts of kindness that prove to be the biggest hit. Some of the items on the checklist are: smile at 25 people, help your teacher with a needed task, help a younger student, and sit with a new group of kids at lunch. McManigal explains, “When students perform kind act after kind act, kindness becomes a habit. And when kindness becomes a habit, peace becomes possible.”

“Our team was overjoyed to reach the tremendous milestone of enrolling two million students by 2015,” said McManigal. “But now,” she says, “we have even bigger goals. We intend to have The Great Kindness Challenge in every school in The United States by 2020, creating a culture where all people care for and respect each other.” If the students, teachers and principals who are already participating have anything to say about it, The Great Kindness Challenge will surely reach this goal.

About The Great Kindness Challenge

The Great Kindness Challenge is one school week devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible, choosing from our checklist of 50 suggestions. The GKC has the power to increase empathy, tolerance, and compassion for all students from pre-school through high school. Schools may still get involved by registering at no cost here: http://greatkindnesschallenge.org/School/event.html

The Great Kindness Challenge is made possible by the generosity of presenting sponsor Dignity Health and supporting sponsors: ExaMobile, The Code Crew, ViaSat, SDG&E, NRG and McGraw-Hill Education.

About Kids for Peace

Kids for Peace is a California-based global nonprofit that provides a platform for youth to actively engage in socially-conscious leadership, community service, arts, environmental stewardship and global friendship. Founded in 2006 by a mother and a Carlsbad High School honors students, Kids for Peace has now launched over 250 chapters in six continents. All Kids for Peace activities are based on the Peace Pledge, wise words written by the children to inspire peace for all.

Million Hearts And EatingWell Magazine Launch Heart-Healthy Nutrition Resource

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saltshakerThe Million Hearts initiative announces the launch of a new Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Resource Center, developed in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and EatingWell magazine. The resource center features lower-sodium, heart-healthy recipes and family-friendly meal plans, with an emphasis on managing sodium intake, a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease.

By helping individuals and families access content and recipes to promote consumption of healthier foods, this consumer-friendly addition to existing Million Hearts tools supports the initiative’s goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes.

“Because sodium is a major contributor to high blood pressure, it is important to help people understand how they can manage sodium intake at home,” said Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC, Executive Director of Million Hearts. “This online resource offers practical, accessible eating and lifestyle-based solutions for people looking for ways to reduce sodium in their diet and create heart-healthy, tasty meals for themselves and their families.”

All the recipes featured in the resource center include nutritional facts and use everyday ingredients found at local supermarkets and have been tested by EatingWell’s test kitchen. Search and filter options make it easier to quickly find the right meal based on prep time, cuisine, course, and number of servings. The meal plans are flexible, easy to use, convenient, and can be customized to an individual’s dietary needs.

saladplate“This resource helps people see that it’s not about giving up the food you love, but choosing lower sodium options that taste great,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC. “Small changes can make a big difference. We can prevent 11 million cases of high blood pressure each year if everyone reduced their daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg.”

To learn more about the Million Hearts Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Resource Center, visit recipes.millionhearts.hhs.gov/. Million Hearts is a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. For more information about the initiative and to access resources, visit millionhearts.hhs.gov.

About Million Hearts

Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Million Hearts brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke.

A Million Senior Voices

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By James Twyman

seniorcoupleexercisesmall“The senior audience just isn’t reliable,” the man said to me. “Why do you think most movies are made for young people? It’s because older people don’t go to the movies. If they did, more would be made for them.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I was speaking to a distribution “specialist,” a consultant to independent producers like myself trying to get their films in front of large audiences. A movie I co-wrote and produced called Redwood Highway was ready to be released, and this man was recommended by a friend to help. According to him, it was a pointless trying to focus on seniors – the group we made Redwood Highway for.

“There are over seventy-six million Boomers in the US, and forty-three million people over sixty-five,” I said to him. “I’m pretty sure most of them still see movies.”

The answer was the same. In his mind, and in the minds of many in the film industry, people over fifty-five are not worthy of attention, and are grossly neglected, especially in theaters. An occasional film like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel breaks free and gets some attention, but it’s the exception, not the rule.

That trend is about to change.

There is a movement gaining speed, what I like to call Senior Cinema, to which producers, distribution companies and even the big Hollywood studios are starting to pay attention. They’re paying attention because they don’t have a choice. As the Baby Boom population reaches retirement age, there’s an enormous need for quality films with strong senior characters engaged in stories that resonate with them. It’s already begun — movies such as Quartet and Amour being among the latest – but that’s only the tip of the iceburg.

“What you need are numbers,” the man said. “If you’re so convinced there’s a big audience for films like Redwood Highway, prove it. Get a million seniors to join together and demand better entertainment. I think it’s unlikely, but if you can do it, then they’ll definitely take notice.”

A million seniors telling Hollywood that it’s time for senior cinema to be taken seriously!

A million seniors telling Hollywood that it’s time for senior cinema to be taken seriously! I thought about that for the rest of the day and it didn’t take long to realize he was right. It’s easy to throw out numbers and data, but a petition with one million names, all of them lending their voices to a campaign for better senior entertainment – that would get some attention.

One million signatures may be just a starting place, but it represents something that has never been tapped in the film industry before – the largest demographic in the country standing up and demanding attention. Consider these statistics: The 50+ generation represents 45% of the US population; an American turns 50 every seven seconds, which is more that 12,500 people every day; the 55+ age group controls more than three-fourths of America’s wealth; Baby Boomers account for 40% of total consumer demand; and seniors have a net worth 3 times that of younger generations. However you look at it, this is not a generation to take for granted.

“I love to go to see movies and I would go more if there were films worth seeing,” Karen K., 56, said. “I don’t think I’m any different than others my age. The problem isn’t in our motivation, it’s about choices. I’m not interested in seeing Iron Man 3, but as soon as a movie comes out I can relate to, I’m there.”

AgeNation is an multi-platform website and organization that caters to “people who weren’t born yesterday.” Its founder and president George Cappannelli adds, “Boomers and elders are being underestimated. Decision-makers beware. You are not only leaving money on the table, but in ignoring this market you are poking a bear that is about to wake up and bite you. They want more than you are giving them.”

So I believe its time to launch this campaign and make our voices heard! We’ve created a petition and survey that will be distributed to all the key individuals in the movie business. It means that everyone in the industry making decisions about which films get made and which ones don’t, or what films will or will not receive proper distribution, will see this report and will have to rekon with its contents. I can already tell what it will reveal — that the senior community wants and deserves inspiring films that relate to their own lives. Knowing that there are a million people ready to buy tickets to senior-oriented films will be the difference between two movies a year and 20.

So, what can you do? It’s very simple. Just go to www.seniorcinema.com and fill out the survey. It will only take about two minutes, but the results could be astounding. People like the consultant I met won’t be able to dismiss you any longer. The entire film industry will have to take notice, and they will definitely respond. It’s up to you. Let your voice be heard and let’s go to see some great movies.

– James Twyman is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 books, as well as the producer/director/writer of five films including the award-winning feature film Indigo. His newest film, Redwood Highway, starring two-time Academy Award nominee Shirley Knight and film legend Tom Skerritt, will debut on National Grandparents Day, Sunday Sept 8, and will be previewed earlier that week in senior residences around the nation. He currently travels around the world promoting films for what he believes to be the most important, and underserved film audience in history – elders. For more info, visit: www.seniorcinemacircle.com