Catching KindnessMar 09, 2023 11:32AM ● By Jet Burnham
Westland Elementary students take personal responsibility to be kind. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
Parents are concerned about kids and kindness.
“The PTA sends a needs assessment at the beginning of the year asking parents what their top concerns are,” Westland Elementary PTA President Wendy Langeberg said. “Consistently, kindness/anti-bullying is the top concern of parents, followed by internet safety and pedestrian/bike safety.”
To address these concerns, the PTA holds a Kindness Month each year. This year’s theme was “Catching Kindness.”
“I think kindness is so infectious because you can just catch it, and then you see other people being kind and you want to be kind and it just grows so quickly, if you could just get it going,” PTA VP of Public Relations Hillary Moser said.
Starting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and ending on Valentine’s Day, school staff members handed out tickets to students who were caught being kind. Tickets were entered into a weekly raffle and every Friday, 20 winners won goodie bags. The class with the most tickets earned matching kindness T-shirts.
Second-grader Juliet earned tickets for getting a piece of scratch paper for a student, for helping a classmate and for inviting a new student to sit with her in the cafeteria. She said being kind is something everyone should do.
“Because if you do kindness then it will help people and we want a kind world, and the teachers really want you to be kind so then people don’t feel bad. If they feel bad, then you feel bad,” Juliet said.
Clark, a sixth grader, said it's easy to look around and find someone to help. He got a ticket from his P.E. teacher for staying after class to help collect balls. Clark believes kindness is as contagious as sadness.
“We want some more goodness in the world so that it spreads and eventually you don’t have a war between Ukraine and Russia,” he said.
Kindness Month culminated with a family service project and game night. Students and their families donated 136 sets of pajamas for Primary Children’s Hospital, which they wrapped with ribbons. They also wrote personal notes for the recipients.
Moser, who has three kids attending Westland Elementary, said kids love pajamas and that Pajama Day is one of their favorites during spirit week. When she learned that Primary Children’s Hospital is always in need of pajamas, she knew it would be a great project.
“We've done a really wide variety of service projects and they've always been very successful,” Moser said. “But these last few years, I've really tried to think of ideas that the children can connect with. We just hope our children realize that there are kids in our community and in our district and in our area that spend time at the hospital, and not just going to the doctor's office for an hour. They spend days and weeks where they need pajamas and they're not at home using their own pajamas. And so we hope that connects in their mind with kids in our community that have that need.”
Students will continue to write down acts of kindness on cut outs of leaves and flowers to be displayed on the Watch Kindness Grow bulletin board outside the school cafeteria.
“We always try to do something that we leave up for at least the next couple of months that we hope reminds kids to continue to be kind, not just this month when we're highlighting it and celebrating it, but all year long,” Moser said.