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This article was published 3/2/2015 (720 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A total of 16 schools in the St. James School Division took part in the five-day, on-campus initiative called the Great Kindness Challenge.
The challenge encouraged students to be kinder to one another, as well as their teachers and everyone around them, for the school week of January 26 to 30.
Each school received a tool kit from the Great Kindness Organization consisting of 50 suggested acts of kindness to complete. Many schools took the challenge outline and put their own unique spin on it to make it more relevant at their particular school.
"When we first got the checklist, it was a little bit Americanized, it had a bit of an American twang to it," said Lorelei Steffler, principal at Lincoln Middle School. "Since the kids have iPads at middle school, we put together the checklist in a Google Doc format so the students could access it every day from their iPads and we could get the results that much more efficiently."
At Lincoln Middle School, the technology twist worked out extremely well in terms of tracking the kind deeds. The Google Doc fed into Steffler’s database and alerted her each time a student completed an item on their checklist.
"I got Anna from room 614 at 9:22 a.m. recorded that she slipped a nice note into her friend’s backpack and Brandon from room 804, picked up 10 pieces of trash at 8:43 a.m.," Steffler said.
Lincoln’s goal to complete 4,000 kind acts throughout the five days of the challenge was surpassed by Wednesday morning as they had already achieved 4,181 kind deeds.
The students got incredibly creative and thoughtful with their tasks as the week went on. Parents started calling in to say thank you because their children were reaching out to contact their grandparents and relatives on their own, which they hadn’t previously done before. Steffler also saw students help the custodian out with the recycling before rushing to go outside and play.
Numerous elementary schools took part in the Great Kindness Challenge as well, including Sansome Elementary School. The students at Sansome participated in dress-up days, such as wearing their pyjamas to class on dreaming of kindness day, and a group of Grade 1 and 2 students made an alphabet book, which defined kindness one letter at a time.
"Kindness is universal and something we’re all striving towards, whether it’s you or me or kindergarten or all the way up to Grade 5," said Sansome principal Patrick Betz. "I think sometimes we forget that it’s the little things that count and this was a really nice way to remind us all of that."
The students at Linwood Elementary School added a community component to the challenge by incorporating a food drive for Winnipeg Harvest. The total number of food items collected came in at 344, exceeding their goal of 300.
Linwood also completed 4,265 random acts of kindness throughout the week, which averaged out to approximately 22 deeds per student. A group of Linwood students, known as the Kindness Crew, came up with all the tasks for their fellow students to complete and planned all the week’s events with their principal, Kelsey McDonald, to help further celebrate the culture of kindness at their school.
The principals at all three schools felt the challenge was a great success and said they would be happy to do it again next year. Without any prizes or awards attached to the challenge, the students discovered the great difference small gestures can make as well as many and more ways to be kind to one another at school.