Holdeman Elementary, a part of the Tempe Elementary School District, started a chain reaction of kindness this week thanks to a unique idea by Fourth-Grade Teacher Kirsten Nelson. Each student and staff member were challenged to two daily acts of kindness. The acts of kindness were recorded on different colored paper rings then linked together throughout the school. The visual helps students and staff see the impact of their kindness.
“It is important to teach our students the power of being kind because our world can be so cruel,” said Nelson. “I want my students to know that they can make a difference and they will make a difference, even if it is the smallest act of kindness.”
Nelson came up with the idea of Kindness Week in part of Rachel’s Challenge, a national call-to-action to put an end to bullying at schools.
Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999. After her death, many students that Rachel reached out to shared stories about the profound impact her simple acts of kindness had on their lives; even preventing one young man from taking his own life. They soon realized the transformational effect of Rachel’s story and started the non-profit organization that is Rachel’s Challenge today.
The National Center for School Engagement notes that 160,000 students skip school every day for fear of being bullied. Nelson believes that the more students participate in spreading kindness to one another, the more our schools will be able to prevent bullying.
“I tell my students no act of kindness is ever wasted. I believe all students need to know this,” said Nelson. “Life is about the choices you make and you choose whether you are going to be kind or not.”
Holdeman staff, as well as each grade-level, were assigned a color for creating their paper rings so that the entire school can see their impact. Nelson also noted that students were not only encouraged to demonstrate acts of kindness in school, but out of school as well. Students have written about helping their parents with chores around the house, making family dinners, complimenting every staff member that they see in the hallway, and the list goes on and on.
“It really is amazing when you see all these links attached and think about each link being a different act of kindness,” said Nelson. “Everyone is making a difference together!”
In addition to the links, Nelson’s class also created a video challenging Holdeman school to demonstrate acts of kindness. Watch their video by clicking here.