Photo: Jessica Schattenburg
At a harvest festival last fall at her children’s school, Rio del Mar Elementary in Aptos, Calif., Justina Bryant spotted two boys teasing a fourth-grader with a squirt gun. He was crying and begging them to stop.
“And those children weren’t listening,” recalls Bryant, 37, a marketing consultant and former teacher. Distraught, the boy bolted away from the campus, and Bryant ran after him. “Even as I was bringing him back,” she says, “the children were still taunting him.”
Bryant scolded the bullies and told the principal. But that wasn’t enough for the crusading mom, who’d often told her son, Trenten, 11, and daughter, Taylor, 9, “If you see something that needs to change, change it.” Inspired by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website, (randomactsofkindness. org), Bryant volunteered to start an afterschool Kindness Club. To her surprise, one of the schoolyard bullies joined. “That basically told me that that child didn’t understand his behaviors and what they really are,” Bryant says. “It was really an eye-opener.”
Starting in December, for one hour each week, 30 club members in grades 2-6 wrote nice notes to office staff, drew pictures for the custodian and crafted kindness bookmarks to hide in the library. But Bryant wanted more. In March, she launched a 21-Day Kindness Challenge and urged Rio del Mar’s 600 students, teachers and staff to perform five daily acts of kindness. Those who witnessed the acts wrote them on thin strips of paper that were eventually linked in a 400-foot chain circling the cafeteria.
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.