Here is our first, of many, podcasts! We are very excited to share this with you. This month we are focusing on empathy. In this episode, our founder Justina Bryant talks you through Dr. Riess' E.M.P.A.T.H.Y formula, and she encourages all of us to continue to teach, grow, and develop our empathy skills. We hope you enjoy this episode.
Blog reference link: A Message of Kindness: A Kindness Project about Empathy
We are still working on uploading the program to iTunes. We will keep you posted when our official site is up and running.
Last week we shared exciting news with you about our corporate partnership program, which pairs businesses with schools to implement the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. Since then we’ve had a few questions from Kindness Coaches on how to reach out to their local businesses for smaller sponsorships and financial help in order to bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to their schools. Even though our program is extremely cost effective - the 21 Day Kindness Challenge costs about $1/student - we understand that budgets are very limited and in many cases already set for the school year. Some schools want to bring the program this spring and don’t want to wait until new budgets are passed to do so.
We have found that local businesses, small organizations (such as Lions clubs, Elks Clubs, Rotary Groups, Chamber of Commerces, etc.) and even parents and/or parent groups like your PTA are extremely interested in helping to pay for the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. It isn’t a difficult “ask” from them, but it is helpful to have tools in place to help! Remember, we are always here to help you brainstorm ideas, provide templates, and we can customize an estimate just for your school. Our goal is to spread kindness by bringing the Kindness Challenge to every school that wants to participate!
We have written this letter for our interested Kindness Coaches. We are pleased to share it with you as well! All you need to do is replace the information in ALL CAPS with your personal information. Everything else is ready to go for you! We recommend printing this on your school letterhead or including your school logo whenever possible.
Dear LOCAL FUNDER (this can be a local organization, business, parent group, etc):
OUR SCHOOL wants to participate in the 21 Day Kindness Challenge, a program that empowers students to change their world through kindness. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge encourages everyone on our campus to do 5 acts of kindness every day for 21 school days. The effect is contagious! Studies have shown that teaching kindness at school makes a difference for everyone with the following benefits:
We are writing to request your help in bringing the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to OUR SCHOOL. Although the program is very cost-efficient - it only costs about $1/student - we are seeking local support and funding. We respectfully ask for ($amount needed) from LOCAL FUNDER. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge provides all of the materials, curriculum, training and support that we need to run the program - all we need to do is see how many acts of kindness we can do in 21 days. We are up for the Challenge!
We would be happy to recognize your support by writing press releases to our local media, and listing your name on our school website. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge organization will also be happy to list you among their amazing Kindness Champions on their website. Most importantly, you will know that you are building a better community for all of us by creating a positive climate on our school campus. You can find out more information about the 21 Day Kindness Challenge programs at 21daykindnesschallenge.org.
Thank you in advance for your support. I look forward to hearing back from you! I can be reached at YOUR EMAIL HERE or by phone PHONE NUMBER.
It was the beginning of the school year, and Principal Denise Kelly was feeling frustrated. Despite hard work and positive efforts by her staff, her school – Sterling Elementary in Sterling, Alaska – was experiencing high levels of behavioral issues. Principal Kelly had more students in her office and had suspended more kids by October than in the entire previous school year. She wanted to break the negative cycle!
Mrs. Kelly reached out to the 21 Day Kindness Challenge with the hopes that the program would reignite her staff to feel kindness in themselves and to share the kindness with their students. She is extremely happy with the results.
“I saw changes in our students; I saw changes in our staff. When we talk about students and their difficult behaviors, we talk about how to lead them back to kindness with kindness! The focus on kindness has been infectious!”
Mrs. Kelly’s co-kindness coach is Katy McKinley. She was inspired to help with the Kindness Challenge because she has been teaching Growth Mindset in her classroom, and felt that the 21 Day Kindness Challenge is an excellent complement to the Growth Mindset. She was very excited about bringing additional positive change to their school.
Mrs. McKinley was very pleased with the impact the 21 Day Kindness Challenge has had on her classroom and Sterling Elementary. She says other teachers agreed that the 21 Day Kindness Challenge was much needed and served a necessary purpose in their classrooms.
“It is amazing how contagious kindness can be,” she said. “Students, staff, and community have been affected by our challenge!”
Mrs. Kelly concurred. “Our (kindness) chain was 931 feet and it equated to 6,571 acts of kindness!” she said. “But beyond that, we had a class who all on their own conducted their own kindness missions across the school and the world. We had a parent contact us and ask us to spread cheer with handwritten cards to the children at the hospital over Christmas to whom they provide gifts. We had numerous parents comment at how contagious our kindness challenge was!”
Sterling’s office referrals have already seen a decrease by nearly 70% since they held their 21 Day Kindness Challenge, said Mrs. Kelly.
“Students are helping each other more and are being more respectful to the adults.”
Mrs. Kelly says the best part about the 21 Day Kindness Challenge at Sterling Elementary School was watching students do kind things, tell her about the kind things they did and seeing them ask to help others “just because.” Mrs. McKinley agreed, saying that she also loved sharing the daily videos that are provided as part of the program and planning the kick off and celebration Kindness Challenge assemblies for the school, especially because they included lots of students and community members.
Sterling Elementary School really got into the spirit of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge with their kick off and celebration assemblies. They invited many guests to attend and participate. A former Sterling principal, a school board representative, their school district’s communications specialist, a community volunteer and their State Senator all made guest speeches! Their district superintendent and a former Sterling Elementary secretary helped the students celebrate at the end of their Kindness Challenge.
One of Mrs. Kelly’s favorite parts of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge was dressing up as the Kindness Queen, a role she took on during the kick-off assembly.
“For our second week, I decided that I should ensure that the students were still thinking about kindness after the weekend. So I put on my Kindness Queen costume – which is not necessarily 'Winter in Alaska' appropriate – and I went to bus duty, greeting all of the students and parents with a reminder to be kind!”
Mrs. Kelly says that anyone can and should do the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. “Any school can do it!” she says. “Focusing on kindness is easy! It is well worth the time and the energy.”
One of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge team’s favorite stories about Sterling Elementary was getting an email from an enthusiastic kindness coach from another school in California.
“I just heard the 21 Day Kindness Challenge on the Bobby Bones show!” she emailed to let us know. Sterling Elementary had received a super fun shout-out from the morning show hosts.
Listen to the shout-out on the Bobby Bones show here. The Sterling clip starts at 7:38.
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge team applauds Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. McKinley for their dedication, creativity, passion, and enthusiasm for creating a kinder, more inclusive school climate. To find out how you can make a difference on your school campus, visit our website!
Are you looking for a unique holiday gift for your children’s teachers that will be greatly appreciated and create lasting impact? The 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition is the perfect holiday gift for all the teachers in your life!
Your gift of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition will provide your children’s teachers with 21 days of lessons, projects, activities and team meetings that teach kindness, compassion, appreciation and caring. It makes a wonderful gift for any K-6 classroom teacher, youth group, preschool teacher, home-school, or any small group-based learning environment.
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition is a gift that will be remembered and appreciated for years to come, not only by your child's teacher but by the students for whom you will be creating lasting change. You will be gifting a four-week program that includes step-by-step weekly theme-based activities to emphasize kindness, caring, appreciation and gratitude. The program integrates seamlessly with existing curriculum so teachers won't have any extra work to do.
Give the gift of kindness today!
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition is extremely well-priced at $119 (includes shipping). The 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition includes a downloadable program guide, kindness bracelets, posters, kindness strips to record acts of kindness, daily videos, printable journals, and printable materials to make it easy and fun for the teacher to implement kindness in their classroom.
At your request, we will ship your gift of kindness directly to your children’s teachers. We will include a handwritten note informing them of your generous gift. Order today in time for the holidays!
“One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness; it usually comes back to you!”
Thankfulness. Counting your blessings. Appreciating everything you see and have. Acknowledging simple pleasures. Having an attitude of gratefulness shifts our focus from what we lack in life to appreciating what we presently have in our lives. A study by two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, concluded that giving thanks daily makes people happier, more resilient, creates stronger relationships, reduces stress levels, and improves overall health.
We must be intentional if we want to develop a grateful attitude in ourselves and our students. Journaling or listing out five things you are grateful for every day is a simple and easy way to develop an attitude of gratefulness. We have created a simple printable gratitude journal for you to use with your students.
Let us know what you and your students are grateful for by posting a comment below or sharing with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Enhancing or improving school culture starts from the top down. Starting with the principal then the teachers and staff, and finally the students. Your students will follow your example nine times more often than your advice. How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath will inspire you to lead with kindness.
How Full is Your Bucket? is a great book for your entire team (staff, teachers, and principal) to read together. It is a short read that delivers a powerful message that is sure to make a culture shift on campus.
Let us know if this book made a difference on your campus by leaving a comment below.
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:
For some people making new friends can be a bit terrifying. We’ve put together a fun interactive project for students of all ages. Younger students can make posters or simply do a small presentation on flash cards, while older students can utilize technology and create a PowerPoint presentation or iMovie. The sky is the limit.
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.
For many schools, finding ways to connect students from different groups on campus is a big challenge. Kindness can help!
An act of kindness can be as easy as reaching out to get to know someone who is different from you -- saying hello and getting to know one another.
The first step is finding just one thing you have in common!
Research suggests that humans have a deeply rooted feeling to be kind and generous, but some obstacles can keep us from acting on those basic impulses. One of the biggest barriers to helping others is that of "group difference": we feel much less motivated to be kind or to help someone if they don’t seem to belong to our group —that is, if they’re not a member of our “in-group”—and we may even feel hostile toward members of an “out-group.”
The good news is that studies show that we can easily change who we consider to be part of our "in-group". So a great way to encourage kindness and develop friendships is to identify things you have in common with another person - even if similarities don't seem very obvious at first. For example, in one study, people were more likely to help a fallen jogger when the jogger was a fellow fan of the same soccer team than when the jogger was a fan of a rival team (as indicated by their shirt). But when participants were reminded of a shared identity with the fallen rival (being a soccer fan), they were more likely to help than they were to help a non-fan.
How can this information help you and your students at school? The exercise below from the Greater Good Science Center is designed to help expand students' sense of shared identity with others. This works really when you have different groups on campus that don't always socialize or mingle together. It will take just 15 minutes of your classroom time, but the impact for your school culture can be long lasting. You may even want to encourage your students to do this exercise with a different person at least once per week.
How It Works:
1. Think of a person in your life who seems to be very different from you in every way that you can imagine. They might have different interests, different religious or political beliefs, or different life experiences. They may even be someone with whom you have had a personal conflict, or who belongs to a group that has been in conflict with a group to which you belong.
2. Next, make a list of all of the things that you most likely share in common with this person. Perhaps you both go to the same school, have a class or two together, or live in the same neighborhood. Maybe you both have siblings or have parents who are divorced. Maybe you have had shared experiences, played a similar sport (or played some sport), seen the same movie, read the same book, shopped at the same grocery store. At the broadest level, you both belong to the human species, which means that you share 99.9% of your DNA!
3. Review this list of commonalities. How do they make you see this person in a new light? Instead of simply seeing this person as someone unfamiliar to you, or as a member of an out-group, now try to see this person as an individual, one whose tastes and experiences might overlap with yours in certain ways.
4. Repeat this exercise whenever you meet someone who initially seems different from you, with whom you have a conflict, or who makes you feel uncomfortable.
We would love to hear from you if you try this exercise with your students! Please reply to this post or on Facebook. We believe that kindness and friendship can bring people closer together. Thank you to the Greater Good Science Center for this wonderful activity that works to achieve that goal.
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.