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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.