VANDALIA — A kindness revolution is sweeping Morton Middle School and organizers are hoping it will become a way of life for these students.
Teacher Amy Stein developed the idea for the school-wide campaign when brainstorming with a friend who is an activities director in California. The two educators compared notes regarding character education and some of the missing elements in schools today. After researching, Stein and fellow teacher Lisa Erdahl rolled out the plan to staff Oct. 10. The staff presented the challenge to students Oct. 14. Within the first week, nearly 600 students have pledged to be a part of the Kindness Challenge.
“Kindness is a choice not an item on a checklist to mark off each day. We want to encourage students to make that choice every single day with their words and their actions,” Stein said.
As part of the Kindness Challenge, students are given ideas and examples daily of ways they can be kind in their daily lives. For example, one challenge was for students to give others three honest compliments.
“We want students to understand kindness does not have to be grand gestures. Sometimes kindness is just a smile, opening the door, saying please and thank you, inviting someone new to sit with you at lunch or sending a thank you note. Kindness is one of the greatest gifts we can give and it does not cost us anything,” Stein said.
Students have the opportunity to pledge their support on a kindness banner at Morton. Once they sign the banner, students receive a wristband with the program’s “Dude. Be Kind” slogan. Pink t-shirts with the slogan are also available for purchase to join students and staff in the revolution. On the last Wednesday of each month, a “Dude. Be Kind” day is scheduled with everyone dressing in pink to show their support of the revolution.
“Teachers will be checking in weekly with their advisory students and discussing ways they are being kind and ways they can show kindness daily. Additionally, we want students to utilize our social media accounts with the #dudebekindmms to showcase their kindness at school, at home and in their community,” Stein said.
Facebook and Instagram accounts have been set up to promote the activities and recognize the great work going on at Morton. Erdahl says she’s pleased with the campaign roll out and the student participation.
“Part of our goal with this revolution is to give students the tools they need to understand how to participate in the act of kindness and ultimately to help create an even more inclusive and caring environment than we already have here at Morton. We already have great kids, we just want to help them become even greater.”