This past week, more than 500 students at Farmin Stidwell Elementary embarked on a schoolwide mission: to be kind, more often. The Great Kindness Challenge is a positive and uplifting program that creates a culture of kindness in schools, communities, and the world. Using a 50-item checklist, schools and families are challenged to complete as many acts of kindness as possible.
“My favorite part was helping people,” third grade student Annaliese Reimann said. “It was nice to do stuff for them. I liked giving hugs to friends the most.”
Acts of kindness on the checklist include saying good morning to peers, saying thank you to the school crossing guard, inviting a new friend to play, stepping up for someone in need, reading a book to a younger student, and giving compliments. The national challenge lasted one week, but staff encouraged students to keep up the culture of kindness throughout the year.
Farmin Stidwell principal Erik Olson said that the staff and students are always focused on kindness, but this week emphasized it even more.
“ Kids are excited about it,” he said. “It was a great reminder of how we want to treat others all the time.”
Farmin Stidwell students were visited by local community members who also believe in the mission to spread kindness. The Sandpoint Police Department shared positive messages and kind words with students during recess, passing out kindness stickers and giving high fives.
Students were thrilled to receive a visit from Spike and Sparkles, the Bulldog mascots from Sandpoint High School. The furry friends gave hugs and high fives, while spreading the kindness message.
“Our kids were ecstatic to have the Bulldogs visit, and to see them promoting kindness,” Farmin Stidwell ELP teacher Nicole Huguenin said. “It was an amazing opportunity to reinforce our kindness message.”
In classrooms teachers encouraged discussions about what kindness looks like, and shared messages from around the world supporting the challenge. All week students could be seen delivering kind notes to staff, helping the custodians, and sharing compliments with one another.
Last year, more than 20,000 schools around the world participated in the challenge, and more than 10 million students. That’s more than 500 million acts of kindness, in more than 100 countries. Farmin Stidwell is now considered a Kindness Certified school.