Source: Casey S. Elliott | Urbana Daily CitizenGraham Middle School sixth graders practice “Give Us Hope,” to be performed at the school’s Friday, Jan. 27, Great Kindness Challenge performance.
ST. PARIS – Graham Local Schools students are spending this week demonstrating how easy it is to be kind to others.
The school district joined other county school districts in the Great Kindness Challenge. The challenge, developed by the nonprofit organization Kids for Peace, seeks to make schools and communities kinder and more compassionate for all.
Each day, students are dressing with specific themes in mind to get them motivated, and each school is taking part in a variety of activities centered around fun and kindness, Graham Middle School Counselor Laura Morgan said. On Tuesday, the theme was “Peace, Love and Kindness,” and students were encouraged to dress up like “hippies.”
Throughout the week, students could fill out a Kindness Checklist provided by Kids for Peace. The checklist includes 50 kind things students can do, such as “smiling at 25 people” or “hold the door open for someone.” Each student completing a checklist will receive a Kindness certificate at the end of the week.
“These are easy, simple things, so the kids can recognize how easy it is to be kind,” Morgan said. “If kindness becomes a daily activity, we hope to see a reduction in conflicts and bullying.”
Morgan said there are few physical rewards for activities completed during the week-long challenge, because staff want the reward to be the good feeling that comes from helping others.
“Kindness is the reward,” she said. “We’re trying to promote a culture of kindness.”
Other activities during the week include making a “Kindness Chain,” decorating doors and writing kind thoughts to others, Morgan said.
Students said they thought the challenge a good idea.
“I thought it would be good to stand up for these kids and show how to live by kindness,” said seventh grader Paityn Dowty, who said she has seen children bullied and has been bullied herself.
Eighth grader Bailee Magnuson agreed: “There are so many bullies, and I think everyone should just love each other and be nice.”
Seventh grader James Pelfrey said that he could see the benefit even outside school.
“There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world, in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think it’s important for everyone to have a bit of kindness.”
Eighth grader Laura Kamper was all in for Tuesday’s hippie theme: “I was born in the wrong generation.”
Kamper said the style suits her. She said she learned to play the ukulele two weeks ago and played songs while wearing her outfit.
“I think (kindness is important),” she said. “There are a lot of people that are so negative these days. Positivity is better. Optimism is just wonderful. It’s never good to be bullied or insulted. When people compliment you and make you feel good, it spreads positive energy.”
For more information about the Great Kindness Challenge, visit thegreatkindnesschallenge.com.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.