West Hollywood Elementary School participated for the second consecutive year in the nationwide Great Kindness Challenge, a weeklong event in which students are encouraged to do as many kind acts as possible.
On Jan. 27, parents, teachers and deputies from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department made a “kindness tunnel” to usher students into the Great Kindness Challenge school week. Principal Elizabeth Lehmann said other activities included crafts like paper chains, parent-led recess stations and a door-decorating contest that will be judged today, Jan. 30, by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Local District West and sheriff’s department officials.
“West Hollywood Elementary really prides itself on being a diverse community and being an embracing and welcoming community,” said Christina Brown, a parent and volunteer who helped decorate doors. “An event like this is really important to us because it reiterates that kindness is just as important as academics at this age.”
Students also brought in loose change during the week for the annual Kind Coins campaign, which helps build health clinics, schools and other community centers nationally and internationally. This year’s campaign, Kind Coins for Mexico, will help build a school and friendship center in Tijuana, Mexico, according to the Great Kindness Challenge website.
In addition to activities and fundraising, the core challenge of the week is based on a 50-item kindness checklist. Tasks included making posters for the library, playing with a neighbor and writing notes to thank the superintendent.
“It gives kids the message that you can change the world by being kind,” Lehmann said. “Sometimes kids don’t think they have that power, and this is one easy way to let them know they can do that.”
Students, Lehmann and other faculty dressed up during the week to celebrate, with each day bringing a new theme. On Monday, the theme was “Peace, love and kindness,” and students dressed up in Woodstock-like vintage attire. Other themes included “Kindness rocks,” where students dressed up as rock stars, and “Show the crazy magic of kindness,” where students could wear spirit gear with the school’s wizard mascot.
Kyle Baxendale, a fourth grade teacher at the school, tied elements from the prior week’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day into the Kindness Challenge. His classroom wrote about their reactions to King’s speech and discussed his vision of kindness.
“My favorite thing about Kindness Week is how it highlights the way that [students] already are kind,” Baxendale said. “Going over those 50 acts of kindness, almost every one was something that they do all the time.”
For information, visit thegreatkindnesschallenge.com.
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