Students at Trails West Elementary are well on their way to performing and documenting 10,000 random acts of kindness by the end of the school year. A wall in the school’s front hallway is covered with hundreds of colorful stars. Each star notes a simple act of kindness that occurred at home, at school or in the community. “I helped my mom by babysitting my little brother,” is the message written on one star. “We invited someone to sit with us at lunch,” reads another. “I helped a senior citizen put her groceries in the car,” says a third.
The stars are part of the school’s “Kindness Rocks” campaign, which was launched in the fall, after students, teachers and staff members noticed some interactions that were less than kind.
“It started with people being mean to other people and we wanted to do something about it,” said Brynna Stymfal, one of the fifth-graders who is leading the campaign. “We think of different ways to help people be nice to each other. For example, holding the door, simple things like making people smile. Just telling somebody a joke can brighten someone’s day.”
The Trails West “Kindness Rocks” campaign kicked off with an optional community viewing of the movie “Wonder.” More than 500 students, parents and staff members turned out to watch the film about a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, which makes him look different from other children. It follows the ups and downs of his experiences at a new school.
Next, Trails West ordered “Kindness Rocks” T-shirts and implemented a weekly kindness trait, such as saying hello, shaking hands and thanking others. The fifth-grade students who are leading the kindness charge say the campaign is making a difference.
“I think the best part is how kids are learning to be nicer to each other,” said fifth-grader Faelynn Davis after hanging up some of the kindness stars. “It makes me feel good.”
Trails West Principal Cheryl Fullmer believes the campaign has had a positive impact on the school climate and culture.
“I believe it has created a sense of oneness, a sense of we’re all in this together,” Fullmer said. “That notion that we all have wonder within us. Let’s find the goodness in one another. We’re strengthening our culture of love and support.”