177 Messages of Kindness
–posted by arathi o
Out of all the afterschool programs offered in their school, three energetic 11-13 year old girls chose to join this one. The “Random Acts of Kindness Class”, the first of its kind, was an innovative experiment, offering children the opportunity to use their creativity and artwork to inspire their school and community by doing random acts of kindness. A few weeks ago, I spent an unforgettable afternoon with these girls and their inspiring teacher, learning about their semester long adventure…
Why did you sign up for the Random Acts of Kindness Class?
“I wanted to learn different ways of spreading kindness. There are people sitting at home who might not have a great life. Some people need kindness just to make their day.” – age 11
“If you see someone upset, you just want to make them feel happy. When you do something nice, the only thing you expect in return is a good feeling in your heart.” – age 11
“I thought the class would be really interesting. I learned that kindness is a chain reaction.” – age 13
The students organized a “Random Acts of Kindness Week”, offering different activities that emphasized the importance of kindness. One of those activities was the Kindness Chain Project. Inspired by the belief that kindness is a chain reaction, students asked their peers to help in making a paper chain with stories of kindness on each link to be displayed in the lobby in front of the entire school. Over the course of the week, 177 kids participated, offering numerous touching and deeply inspiring stories of kindness from their own lives:
”I let my sister squeeze my hand when she was in pain”
“I helped a special needs kid today”
Throughout the semester, these three enterprising girls took part in a variety of different projects spreading kindness around their school and in their community. On one occasion, they created decorative signs on door hangers stating “do something kind today” and anonymously left them on teachers’ classrooms throughout the school. On another occasion, they wrote poems and anonymously hid them in the park for people to find. The girls spent another afternoon picking up trash around the school. One girl stated, “Birds and squirrels live in the park, and the trash is ruining their environment, it can hurt them. We wanted to help.” The girls even made placemats for people in nursing homes, writing inspirational messages such as “peace + love = happiness” and “you are loved”.
The experience left me with a heart full of gratitude for teachers willing to step beyond the boundaries of tradition, and offer students an opportunity to ground their education on values of service and empathy.
And in the end, after almost two hours of excited chatter and laughter, I asked the girls one last question.
“So, does it make a difference how small or big the act of kindness is?”
No, it makes no difference. In the end, the acts of kindness are all the same size because they all make someone smile.