Empowering students to serve others through acts of kindness is something we at Regional School District No. 7 in Connecticut strive to do through a program called Kindness in Motion. The inspiration for this program came four years ago when our superintendent, Judy Palmer, saw a program on CBS Sunday Morning about Chris Rosati, a great man who—despite having ALS—dedicated the rest of his life to spreading kindness before he passed away in 2017.
Chris’s story impacted Palmer in such a way that she wanted to offer students in our district a similar opportunity to spread acts of kindness. As a result, each February, students and staff create and submit proposals for a project that spreads kindness through the school or community. Palmer and our district’s administrative team review the proposals and select a number of ideas to receive a $100 grant. Students then have until May to complete their Kindness in Motion projects.
To fund the grants, Dr. Palmer puts in her own money, and local companies match her contribution. In addition, every member of our administration team contributes as well. Amazingly, each year we have received more and more money from businesses and donors. Once others in the community heard about what students were doing with our Kindness in Motion projects, they wanted to donate as well. Over the last two years, we were able to fund eighty different grants!
Toward the end of the year, we have a Kindness in Motion Celebration where students get to invite family and friends to a ceremony that showcases all of the wonderful acts they completed. It also gives students an opportunity to tell why they did their act and what they learned. It is one of the highlights of the year.
Projects have varied greatly and impacted numerous people in different locations. For example, a young lady who was adopted used her grant to create dolls that she sent to her orphanage in China. Another student purchased supplies with her funds for a breakfast that people paid to attend. She then used the profits from the breakfast to purchase items for children’s care packages, and donated them to our state’s Department of Children and Family (DCF) that would give the packages to children to comfort them during investigations. Additionally, a group of students volunteered at a local nursing home and purchased games and activities to use while visiting senior citizens. At the end of their multiple visits, they donated the games to the nursing home. One of my favorite Kindness in Motion activities was when a student—with the help of her dad, our local Lions Club, and the Home Depot—used her grant to fund an exterior makeover of an elderly neighbor’s house.
I spoke to a few students recently about why they got involved and what they learned from the Kindness in Motion program. Here are some of their responses:
- “I wanted to do something that would impact those less fortunate in a positive way.”
- “I saw it as a great opportunity to get involved to help people.”
- “It made me feel good to see others were benefitting from my action.”
- “I wanted to give back to my community and felt this was a way to make a difference.”
- “It taught me leadership skills. To see a project from idea to completion was a rewarding experience.”
- “We can make an impact on the world, no matter our age.”
There are so many awesome things that have come from Kindness in Motion. Its impact on our school community, and the towns our district serves, has been tremendous. Our students learn that they have the power to impact others in a positive way. I share Kindness in Motion with all of you in the hope that it spreads to others. If you are interested in bringing this program to your school, please email me at [email protected] to learn more.
How does your school empower students to spread kindness?
Joe Masi proudly serves as an assistant principal at Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted, CT. He wakes up every morning grateful to serve the amazing parents, staff and students of his school community. He is the 2018 Connecticut Assistant Principal of the Year. Follow him on Twitter @JosephMasi12.