Reposted with permission from author – this work originally appears on Health Education for Teens.

“Who knew being kind was so difficult?”

During a week of Kindness some of our High School students took a step back from their regular interactions with their peers to look at how kind they were being. “Isn’t sarcasm, poking, wit and or a joke kind?” “it makes me people laugh?” “they are also laughing”  were a few questions and comments that made each class rethink their interactions and their definitions of kindness.

On a walk to school during Kindness week, I discussed how the week was going with a colleague and friend. We discussed that kindness was an emotion or an act that we didn’t fully comprehend. That when asked to be purposefully kind, it evoked an emotional response that some of us were not ready for.

So, if you or your school is preparing for the Kindness Challenge, remember, it is just that, a challenge. It might be one of the most powerful challenges you could ask of your community. It also could prove to be a difficult challenge for many.

The Great Kindness Challenge (GKC) is a bullying prevention campaign. Click here to find out how you can involve your community. There is an official week however, with busy schedules and the flexibility of the concept, implement this within your community at anytime. The program is free and the website has downloadable resources to help you. As Lincoln is an international community, the Wellness Team adapted the checklist to suit our community.

Lincoln International School Wellness Team teamed up with the financial support of PAL (Parents at Lincoln) to bring the GKC to their community. The concept was to bring the whole school together and embrace kindness. The week comprised of many initiatives to ensure all community members could participate in the challenge.

The week kicked into full swing with a whole school kindness video, shown in every class on Monday at 8am. The video was put together by our social media coordinator Vileta Bullrich, she recorded community members expressing their ideas of what kindness was.

 

To ensure we were continually reminded of the GKC all community members received green wristbands that read “Kindness Matters.” In the weeks following many community members can still be seen sporting these bands. Staff, teachers and parents all received GKC checklists that provided a variety of tasks that they could do to show kindness throughout the week. The tasks are supplied by GKC and can be adapted to your culture or language. This initiative had all members of our community snapping themselves in acts of kindness and bringing the community closer. The Lincoln Wellness Team created checklists for kidsstaff and parents.

With the influence of technology and students love of gaming. The Wellness Team sort the service of KU NAME one of the school’s learning coach. In conjunction with Wild Goose he created an online scavenger hunt that elementary classes could work together to complete and Middle and High School students could independently work on during the week.  The app included taking  pictures of you leaving kind notes, including people at lunch, reading to younger students and had the option to demonstrate your own individual kind act.

Additionally, each school (elementary, middle and high) had creativity stations in their common areas. These allowed students and staff to create kind notes, posters, drawings and over the course of the week created. The creative stations ensured students were engaged with kindness during their breaks.

Each morning a video, quote or idea was read to each advisory and elementary class. Teachers and students engaged in conversations about Kindness. To ensure that students were seeing initiatives by other students their age, the Wellness Team showcased apps, quotes and promotional material created by youth.

The final initiative implemented by the Wellness Team and the piece that was the most visible was the Kindness Mural. The mural hung towards the front of the school and involved all members of the community tying ribbons with kind messages in a color coordinated fashion. This resulted in a rainbow effect and by the end of the week tied the Lincoln Community together in Kindness.

The week was jam packed with Kind initiatives implemented by teachers, students The Wellness Team and all members of the community. The Great Kindness Challenge is not solely student focused. It ensures all types of bullying is positively impacted by Kindness.