Hello, 21 Day Kindness Challenge Followers and anyone else reading this…
My life’s work is to empower today’s youth to change their world with kindness. I’ve developed a program for grades k-12 called the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. It has been a labor of love for over two years. The program helps school's get ahead of the bullying situation by learning about kindness. The program encourages everyone on campus to intentionally do 5 acts of kindness every day for 21 school days.
Back in 2014, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, about how our youth need our help. In the wake of local teens that had taken their lives, I challenged our community to do what they can to help our youth. I realized that I, too, needed to do something to help. Hence, I created the 21 Day Kindness Challenge.
Today, my heart is saddened yet again as I hear about a new "game" on the app Snapchat. A recent article talks about how young people are using Snapchat to make fun of other people. For those of you who do not know, Snapchat is an app that delivers a quick snapshot of messages - this message can be posted to your story or sent directly to a particular person. When a person posts to their "story" (page), the post stays for 24 hours. Anyone and everyone can see this post. Snapchat’s can also be sent to a person directly. In this case, the post disappears as soon as the person views it. A popular thing to do is to take a screenshot of the chat and re-post.
According to the article, two teens have taken their lives because of this so-called ‘game.' Rachaele Hambleton, a blogger of Part-time Working Mummy in Devon, U.K. commended her daughter for not playing along. Hambelton explains, the game, “consists of sending someone the letter 'X.' That person then sends you back a name of someone you all know... you then write the most horrific things you can think of about that person - about their weight, their appearance, their personality... the more horrid the comments, the better. It then gets posted anonymously, but publicly, upon Snapchat stories for everyone to see and share.”
I would like to challenge the 21 Day Kindness Challenge community to help put a STOP to this Snapchat “game” by spreading kindness via Snapchat. We have created our own "game" that promotes kindness. If you, your students, or kids are on Snapchat, please ask them to play along. See the image below on how to play:
Share this with as many people as you can. Together we can do great things!!
Founder & President of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge, Inc.
My Snapchat Name: justinabryant7
By ELIZABETH EARL | Peninsula Clarion
Beyond just gifts, hugs and kind words, the teachers and staff at Sterling Elementary School are hoping students will find many ways to be kind this November.
The school kicked off its 21-Day Kindness Challenge on Monday with a school-wide assembly headed up by the “Kindness Ambassadors,” students involved with organizing the event who explained how it would work.
Boiled down, it’s simple: Be kind. Often.
Students are challenged this month to perform five acts of kindness every day and write them down on slips of paper in their classrooms or the school office. Pretty much any selfless act can qualify, from handing a friend a pencil in class to sharing lunch with someone who doesn’t have one. At the end of the month, teachers and staff will chain together all the strips and hang them around the school, celebrating the students’ accomplishments with another assembly on Dec. 1.
The practicality is very real — the program was designed as a positive reinforcement effort to prevent bullying, reinforcing positive interactions, according to the program’s website. Designed by a California mother for her children’s school, about 27 schools nationwide have used it. It is similar to other kindness programs like the Great Kindness Challenge, Think Kindness or Random Acts of Kindness, but this is the first time this particular program has been used in Alaska, said Denise Kelly, Sterling Elementary School principal.
“We believe this is the first time this particular program has been used in Alaska,” she said.
The title is based on the old idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. It fits in with the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program, an in-school program designed to help intervene with students at risk of behavior problems. The program has three tiers, the first of which is broad and is administered to the entire student population.
One current trend in PBIS is to use positive support on a schoolwide basis for cognitive goals — like kindness. Students in schools with school-wide positive behavioral support systems had fewer school suspensions than those without, and perceptions of safety improved in those schools, according to a 2015 post from the National Institute of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.
The discussions for the event started between four sixth-grade students and two teachers, evolving from there to include two students from each class as kindness ambassadors. Teachers were asked to pick two students they thought were the kindest to be the ambassadors.
The challenge provides the older kids with a chance to be role models for the younger ones, Kelly said.
“We’ve really been pushing for the sixth graders and the kindergarteners to interact more,” she said.
The program builds on one that Sterling Elementary School put in place in 2009 in which teachers awarded students colored pom-poms as tokens of good behavior. The balls were collected into communal jars in each classroom, and when the jars were filled, the classrooms would have celebrations. When the school’s communal jar was filled, the whole school would have a party. Sterling Elementary School was the first in the district to pick up the PBIS program, according to previous Clarion reporting.
At the kick-off assembly Oct. 31 — where princesses and pirates were intermixed with students in ordinary dress — the Kindness Ambassadors demonstrated simple acts other students could do. They presented flowers and offered kind words and hugs to those in attendance. Before leaving the assembly, Kelly sprinkled all the students with “kindness” confetti.
“I’ve got kindness in my hair,” one student said, shuffling his hands through his hair, as he walked back out into the hallway.
Do you see students at your school sitting alone or having a hard time making friends? For many students, navigating the schoolyard at break or finding a lunch buddy can be challenging and overwhelming. Sitting by oneself is a lonely experience. In some cases, students who are by themselves become targets for bullying. Feeling socially isolated can also cause poor academic performance. What does your school do to encourage students to engage with others outside their groups or who may be feeling alone and ostracized? We have a few ideas below to help your students find a welcoming place at school.
For older students, a new app called Sit With Us helps students who have difficulty finding a place to sit for lunch or hang out find a welcoming group. The app allows students to designate themselves as “ambassadors,” thereby inviting others to join them. Ambassadors can then post “open lunch” events, which signal to anyone seeking company that they’re invited to join the ambassadors’ table. Sit with Us is a mobile app that is designed to create a kinder more inclusive school community. It was designed by 16-year Natalie Hampton after she experienced bullying and loneliness during her seventh-grade year. Hampton told Audie Cornish on NPR’s “All Things Considered” that the reason why she felt an app like this was necessary is because it prevents kids from being publicly rejected and being considered social outcasts by their peers. She is definitely on to something - recent studies conducted by Princeton, Rutgers and Yale University show that when students, especially the “cool kids,” stand up to bullying it has a significant impact. During a 2012-2013 school year, over 50 New Jersey middle schools provided their most socially competent students with social media tools and encouragement to combat bullying, and saw a reduction in student conflict reports by 30 percent.
We think Natalie's app is a great idea, especially for middle and high school students. For those schools where phones aren't allowed or whose students are too young to bring them to school, here are a few other ideas to give kids a chance to feel included:
We've designed our program to be extremely cost effective and budget friendly! The 21 Day Kindness Challenge School Program costs just about $1/student. Our goal is to bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to as many schools that want it. Here are some different ways schools have paid for the program:
We believe that giving students the opportunity to raise money for the program provides them with invaluable leadership and career skills. It can also be a bonding experience for students who may be having trouble fitting in or finding friends. Some student leadership groups have raised money by hosting bake sales, rummage sales, runs/walks and other small fundraising activities.
Many school districts have special funds set aside for anti-bullying or wellness campaigns. Check with your district office to see if this is an option for your school.
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge is also a great opportunity to reach out to local community organizations like your rotary club, 4-H, chamber of commerce, Lions Club, etc. for support. Many groups are looking for ways to make an impact for their local students and will provide small grants to your school.
Parent groups are also an excellent resource. You may want to reach out to your parent group (PTA, Home & School Club, Parent Alliance) to see if they will fund the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. We have found that parents are very supportive of programs that will have a significant impact and that directly engage their children.
We are happy to help you! Please contact us, and we would be delighted to provide you with specific funding ideas to meet your school's needs. We have videos, flyers, email, and snail-mail templates, etc. that you can use for community groups and parents.
Literature is a powerful way to teach life lessons! This month we have six book suggestions by grade level that focus on friendship. We hope you and your students enjoy these books. We’d love to hear any additional book recommendations you have, you can send us an email or add a comment below.
According to a Canadian study, it takes ten seconds to stop a bully. Can you guess how many people it takes to stop a bully in ten seconds? One! The study found that if even one student spoke up to express disapproval of the bullying incident, the bully typically stopped within ten seconds.
Bullies gain power when no one challenges their behavior. An estimated 85 percent of bullying happens with other students watching. Bystanders often passively watch the incident or aggravate the problem by cheering on the behavior and/or joining in on the behavior.
Here are three strategies you can use to help empower bystanders:
Role play incidents that can foster peer malice and then have a discussion about what a bystander should do to help the situation.
Start the discussions by asking open-ended questions and writing down the answers. Tackle each answer to find a solution that can cultivate kindness, foster friendships and build community.
Many schools have reduced bullying incidents by empowering their student leadership or advisory team to take on the issue of peer malice. Here are some ideas on how to utilize your student leaders or student advisory team:
Cruz Cares winner: 21 Day Kindness Challenge with 24 schools and 175,000 acts of kindness
By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ >> The leaders of a venture to stop bullying, which in two years has generated 175,000 acts of kindness and reached 24 schools including some in Los Angeles and Baltimore, want to impact more schools and more students.
Their 21 Day Kindness Challenge won top honors from the judges in the 2016 Cruz Cares social entrepreneur contest, $2,000 and a package of business services.
Justina Bryant, 39, of Aptos, started an after-school kindness club at her child’s school, Rio del Mar Elementary after witnessing a taunting incident there. Wanting to reach all the students, she challenged the school to a 21 Day Kindness Challenge, asking students, faculty and staff to perform five acts of kindness daily. Bryant, who had worked as a teacher and in marketing, understood the time constraints in the classroom so she kept the explanation simple.
“It literally takes five minutes,” she said.
Yet the effort paid dividends. Students were motivated to be helpful and wrote down positive acts they saw. After a Sentinel reporter wrote about the kindness challenge, American Profile magazine wrote about it, prompting 542 inquiries.
Bryant teamed up with fellow parent Christy Tall, 44, who has experience in fundraising and marketing, to create a full-fledged program that is sold on their website, along with blue T-shirts, buttons and wristbands saying “Be Kind.”
“It’s designed to be plug-and-play,” said Tall.
The two looked into nonprofit status before opting to be a for-profit venture.
The basic cost for an average size elementary school of 650 students and 50 staff is $789. Options for smaller and larger schools are available, as are middle school options. A classroom option costing $100 was developed after teachers requested it, and a high school option is being developed with an emphasis on social media, based on Aptos High School’s experience.
To help schools launch the kindness challenge, there is an online training portal that includes email updates and customer support.
Though the 21 Day Kindness Challenge has reached schools in Silicon Valley such as Atherton High, and some as far as Utah, Ohio and Maryland, Bryant and Tall are proud to see all the schools in Aptos involved.
The kindness challenge is underway at Rio del Mar Elementary; Aptos Junior High started Monday. Bradley Elementary will start May 6. Valencia Elementary completed its challenge already and Mar Vista Elementary will do it in the fall.
Janneke Lang, founder of The Inspiring Enterprise and the Cruz Cares contest, considered the 2016 competition “a huge success,” bringing 220-plus people to the Del Mar Theatre Wednesday night and topping her $10,000 fundraising goal. She raised $16,000.
The top prizes for startups solving social or environmental problems all went to education ventures.
Santa Cruz Hive focusing on young adults exiting foster care got second place and Levered Learning producing online curriculum took third place.
Gail McNulty, 44, of Santa Cruz Hive, is tapping her experience in the Bronx as rookie teacher of ninth graders ranging in age from 13 to 21. The 21-year-old, a graffiti artist, respected her once he learned she had worked as an art director. Her goal, similar to Thread in Baltimore, is to connect struggling young people, one at a time, with a cluster of caring volunteers, such as college students, a community elder and a professional with expertise in the field the young person is passionate about. She expects all participants to benefit.
“You could meet that random person that might open that next door for you,” she said.
2016 CRUZ CARES WINNERS
1st: 21 Day Kindness Challenge
Founder: Justina Bryant
Prize: $2,000, business services
2nd: Santa Cruz HIVE
Founder: Gail McNulty
Prize: $1,500, business services
3rd: Levered Learning
Founder: Mitchell Slater
Prize: $1,000, business services
Footprint Inn: Founder Alicea Cock-Esteb, email@example.com
Assure Technologies: Founder Kara Kytle, firstname.lastname@example.org
Soliculture: Engineeering director Melissa Osborn, email@example.com
Don’t just teach kids to count. Teach them what counts most!* Classrooms around the country now have the opportunity to do just that.
In response to requests from teachers and administrators to meet a “kindness gap," the 21 Day Kindness Challenge has launched its newest program, the 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition. The organization’s new classroom kindness program provides teachers with 21 days of lessons, projects, activities and team meetings that teach kindness, compassion, appreciation and caring.
“Teachers asked for it, and we listened!” says Justina Bryant, founder and president of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. “Teachers were asking for help to change the culture of their classroom.” Our 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition provides them with all the materials and tools they need to create a kinder, more inclusive, classroom environment.”
Studies have shown that students and teachers reap the benefits of teaching kindness in the classroom.
Teaching kindness has the following results:
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition is perfect for K-6 classroom teachers, youth groups, preschools, home-schools, or any small group-based learning environment. This program is a comprehensive, four week program that includes step-by-step weekly theme-based activities to emphasize kindness, caring, appreciation and gratitude. Students and teachers will develop the habit of being kind. The program also dovetails with many of the standards set by Common Core curriculum.
“I’m very excited to launch the 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition. I know our children can change the world, we just need to show them how to be kind, effective and proactive leaders,” said 21 Day Kindness Challenge Founder, Justina Bryant.
In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
*Quote by Karen Salmansohn. www.notsalmon.com
Our 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition is now available!
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.