Students at Valencia Elementary believe they can be even kinder than they were last year. The school is taking on the 21 Day Kindness Challenge for the second year in a row.
Last year, Valencia students built a kindness paper chain representing more than 6,480 acts of kindness. This year, their goal is to do more than 10,000 acts of kindness.
“We challenge our students, teachers and staff to see how many more acts of kindness we can do in 21 days than last year!” says Deborah Christie, lead teacher for the Kindness Challenge at Valencia. “Our goal is for our chain to be longer, which means that we’ve increased our kindness acts — and that kindness becomes a daily practice for students and adults in our learning community.”
Valencia launched its Kindness Challenge on April 13
“We are looking forward to the Kindness Challenge making an impact at our school. Our goal is that it (the Challenge) raises the level of positive spirit and joy in our school, which transcends to our larger community. Hopefully it will feel like second nature to our students after practicing acts of kindness for 21 consecutive days. We are here to help students develop good habits. This (kindness) is a great habit to develop.”
Christie is helping the Sixth Grade Leadership Group at Valencia conduct the 21 Day Kindness Challenge at their school. The students are responsible for the planning, announcing and running the 21 Day Kindness Challenge.
Valencia School sixth grade leaders are: Ann Marie Guilbert, Alex Gaon, Gwynn Rothhammer, Xochitl Cardona, Shai Voskoboynik, Alondra Encisco, Max Frisbee, Reese Logan, Nick Sundeen, Jaden Englehart, Kai Mockus, Jacob Fassio, Morgan Schaeffer, Lennyn Fear, Kelcey De La Torre, Keone Sayers, Serena Bridges, Kaitlin Kloepfler, Bella Hewett, Andrew Manning, Jason Patrick, Selah Smith, Hailey Lonzano, and A.J. Jett
During the Kindness Challenge students, teachers, principals, and staff are asked to do five acts of kindness every day for 21 days to develop a stronger school community. It is a proactive approach to bullying as it focuses on the positive interactions that take place around campus. As a result, attention is taken away from bullying behaviors and negative interactions.
The Kindness Challenge emphasizes respect for others, promotes responsible decisions, creates a positive atmosphere, develops empathy, strengthens the school community and increases positive behaviors.
The benefits of developing kindness on school campuses are improved academic results, less stress in the overall school environment, increased self-esteem, less bullying, fewer classroom disruptions, and improved concentration.
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge pilot program, which was started in Aptos in 2014 by Rio del Mar Parent Justina Bryant, is in the process of establishing itself as a non-profit organization and plans to implement the program in at least 100 schools during 2015-2016 school year.
It has held 13 Challenges this year, with 25 schools already planned for next school year including schools in California, Utah, Maryland and Canada. The organization is focusing on developing its program and expanding funding sources in order to reach as many students as possible. The organization’s website is www.21daykindnesschallenge.org.
“I know our children can change the world, we just need to show them how to be kind, effective and proactive leaders,” said 21 Day Kindness Challenge Founder Justina Bryant.
In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”