Urbana East Elementary School students will be encouraged to perform numerous acts of kindness next week as part of the Great Kindness Challenge.
The challenge is being promoted and co-sponsored by The Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund. Alicia Titus was killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Titus was a flight attendant on United Airline Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
The peace fund was started in 2002 by her parents, John and Bev Titus, in memory of Alicia Titus.
Mrs. Titus said the memorial fund was interested in co-sponsoring the challenge to help create a culture of peace starting with children.
“Anytime that we have an opportunity and have tools that we can provide them to help with this then we definitely want to be a part of that,” she said.
Mrs. Titus said the challenge originated in Carlsbad, California, and has found international success in schools ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. In 2015, 2,188,669 students participated in the challenge preforming over 100 million acts of kindness nationwide.
The challenge is part of an international organization called Kids for Peace, which Mrs. Titus said the memorial fund has been part of for the past two years.
Students at Urbana East Elementary were informed of the challenge Friday during an assembly to kickoff the program.
Urbana East Elementary Principal Jill Weimer said students will receive a checklist of challenges to see how many kind deeds they can perform in a week. The challenges range from holding a door open for someone to sitting with a new group of children at lunch.
As students complete a challenge, Weimer said students will write their act of kindness on a brick to help build a wall of kindness. Also during next week, students will be asked to wear certain attire each day to show their commitment to being kind along with other activities.
Weimer said the school has not been involved in this program previously and was approached by Mrs. Titus about participating. Weimer hopes children will learn that small acts of kindness can have a great impact and often one can lead to another.
Mrs. Titus said it is critical to have programs teaching children that kindness matters.
“There’s so much information out there readily available for children that teaches them to respond in a negative way, to not know how to deal with their anger, to divide and create cliques and fear of one another and differences,” Mrs. Titus said. “I think it’s so important for us to give them another option, another way. Something that’s life giving rather than taking away from the quality of their life.”
In addition to Urbana East Elementary, Mrs. Titus said she spoke with Graham Local School Interim Superintendent Matt Curtis this week about the program who expressed interest in the entire school district participating in the program.
She added it is not too late for schools to participate in the program and encouraged schools to sign up for the challenge.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.