Did you feel them? The ripples of kindness spreading out from Binks Forest Elementary School in Wellington during the month of January.
That’s the hope of third grade teachers Emily MacMillan and Heather Knapp, who led their students in a variation of the Kindness Project, which began in Ireland in 2016.
There, teachers at one school ditched homework assignments for a month and instead encouraged students commit acts of kindness.
At Binks Forest, MacMillan and Knapp cut back on after school work and helped students find ways they could show kindness to fellow students, family members, neighbors and total strangers.
“I loved the idea. I thought it was awesome,” said Knapp, a first-year teacher, encouraged by MacMillan, an 11-year veteran. “I want my students to know the importance of spreading kindness, of being kind, especially with today’s social media environment.”
Together, teachers and students created a “kindness board” covered with suggestions about small acts students could perform to show kindness.
“We want to find things they could do no matter how busy they are with outside activities,” MacMillan said
Those acts included everything from making signs thanking firefighters for all they do and taking them to the firehouse, to chalking encouraging messages on sidewalks.
Other students created crafts and sold them for money to donate to Big Dog Ranch Rescue or left sticky notes in stores to thank workers and give a smile to other shoppers.
Still others painted “kindness rocks” and placed them in parks or other locations for people to find. Simpler kindness activities included doing something helpful for a neighbor, doing an extra chore around the house without being asked, writing kindness notes to classmates and leaving them on their desk, and simply committing to smile and be cheerful all day.
And there were many more.
“We really wanted them to get out in the community and see the ripple effect of what they were doing… putting kindness into the world,” MacMillan said.
All together, 118 students participated in this, the third such Kindness Project at Binks Forest.
The project ran through January, during which students kept digital journals. This month, they shared those journals in class in the form of slideshows and talked about the impact the project had on them.
Most were excited to share, Knapp said. “Even the shy ones stood up,” she said. “We got great feedback from parents.”