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Welches students take on Great Kindness Challenge posted on 02/01/2018

The Welches Schools took kindness to heart last month with the Great Kindness Challenge, a week dedicated to focusing on kindness featuring daily themes and a checklist of kind acts students tried to accomplish. The WILL Club (Welches Intermediate Leadership Liaison) took part in picking the daily themes, and fifth grader Bailey Sheehan was especially kind to the theme of “Roundup for Kindness,” voting twice for it.

“That one sounds really cool,” said Sheehan, 11, about the chance for students to dress up in cowboy and cowgirl gear.

The week consisted of: “Team Up for Kindness,” dressing in favorite sports team outfit, on Monday; “Tied Together with Kindness,” featuring scarves and ties, on Tuesday; “Kindness Rocks,” with rock star apparel on Wednesday; “Roundup for Kindness” on Thursday; and “Dreaming of Kindness,” dressing in pajamas, on Friday.

This was not the first venture into kindness for the school, as they worked on compliments and showing kindness last school year, but it took on a greater focus this year with the Great Kindness Challenge, a program run by the nonprofit organization Kids for Peace. Welches Schools Principal Kendra Payne noted that by registering with the organization, they had access to tools, curriculum and activities to better organize their efforts.

“We believe that educating the whole child is crucial, so teaching social (and) emotional skills is part of our role,” Payne wrote in an email to the Mountain Times. “We wanted to bring Kindness to the forefront because it helps students in all aspects of life.”

The students also noted why kindness to others is a virtue worth practicing.

“It’s important to be kind because if you're not kind, then not a lot of people are going to like you,” said Kadence Gilman, 10, a fifth grader. “If we just had a lot of mean people in the world, the world would be different.”

“I think kindness is important because kindness will get you a long way in life and makes things a lot easier,” Sheehan added.

They also saw how they already acted kindly and helped others out.

“My sister asked me to make food,” said Nestor Gallardo, 10, a fifth grader, adding that he also says nice things to other people and holds the door open for others.

“When my dad needs help around the house, I help out,” Gilman said, adding that she also cleans her room on a daily basis.

Students also received paper links for each entry on the checklist they completed, with each link then put together to make a chain.

“What we hope is all of our small acts together will grow into a really big chain of kindness that will carry over to the rest of the year,” Payne told the students at a kick off assembly on Friday, Jan. 19. “We’re going to work together to grow small links into chain in classroom, then take all classroom chains and link them together for a school chain.”

Payne also noted to the Mountain Times how the focus on kindness can help model examples of the behavior for a wide range of ages, including middle school students helping the younger students.

“Our 5th graders act as peer helpers at recess to model kindness and help talk through conflict resolution with younger students,” she wrote. “Sometimes it's more effective for kids to learn from kids, especially when it comes to peer interactions.”

By Garth Guibord/MT

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