The Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund has sponsored and promoted programs and events over the last 20 years designed to help break the cycle of violence and hatred that exist in our world. It has been our mission to provide educational programs that help our youth learn about kindness, and to help create a culture of peace within our community that reflects the goodness of its members.
The “Season for Nonviolence” celebrated each year Jan. 30 to April 4 is a 64-day, national educational, media and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform and empower our lives and our communities.
The “Season for Nonviolence” was organized in 1997 to commemorate the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With a growing foundation of support, the “Season for Nonviolence” has become an important educational and media opportunity to bring communities together, empowering them to envision and help create a nonviolent world, one heart and one program at a time.
We celebrate the “Season for Nonviolence” throughout the Champaign County area and the City of Urbana, the 140th International City of Peace, beginning with the Great Kindness Challenge (GKC) each year. The GKC is a Bully Prevention program that aims to improve school climate and increases student engagement for Pre- K–12 students, and helps create a culture of kindness. The GKC is a program of the international organization “Kids for Peace” and is held annually the last week in January.
This year Jan. 24-28, students from the Champaign County area engaged in performing as many acts of kindness as they could throughout the week and are committed to continue their random acts of kindness throughout this new year.
This year we joined over 18 million students in 36,213 schools spanning 115 countries. Students, faculty and staff from the Urbana City Elementary School and West Liberty Salem Elementary School as well as the Champaign County Library took part in this global event. Students have used their art skills to spread kindness to our front line workers including health care workers, first responders, and many others in our community thanking them for their service as we continue to find our way through the pandemic.
Our community and world have faced many difficult times these last two years with COVID-19. It has been the kindness and compassion demonstrated by so many that have lifted us up in this time of need. Your kind words, a visit, however limited to a loved one, a smile shared with a stranger, lending a helping hand for a neighbor, a letter or message of encouragement and hope, and hugs (whenever safe) that have gotten us through.
The spirit of this Challenge has carried on throughout our Urbana City of Peace community and Champaign County area supporting our youth in their efforts to be kind with the understanding that it is on all of us to be leaders with kindness.
The pop-up food pantries stocked by community members, volunteering whenever possible, donating needed supplies, financially contributing, and remembering that even a smile or a kind word can lift someone up and give them hope. A “family-friendly version” of the “Great Kindness Challenge” was created and is used by so community members and people around the world, especially the last couple of years. Sometimes, we just don’t know what to do and the “family-friendly version provides ideas for random acts of kindness that can be practiced no matter what day it is, what time of year or situation. Kindness matters! Please visit the “Kids for Peace” (Great Kindness Challenge) website to download the Family Edition checklist at https://thegreatkindnesschallenge.com/familychecklist/.
The Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund provides “Kindness Matters” items and books on kindness, peace and diversity to the schools and libraries that participate each year. This year we also donated “Kindness Matters” masks, and “Images of Kindness” canvas art packets to our Champaign County youth asking them to create their “Image of Kindness” on their canvas. These art pieces have been displayed in their schools and are now at the Champaign County Library for you to see. If you need some inspiration and need some kindness in your life right now, please visit the library through April 4 to experience the beautiful loving and kind images our children created.
Submitted by John and Bev Titus of St. Paris