Published by Laurie Pender on October 9, 2017
Fayetteville, NC – In observance of Cumberland County Schools’ (CCS) Kindness Awareness Month, the Anti-Bullying Task Force and the DoDEA Grant Project are challenging every school in the district to complete at least 5,000 acts of kindness throughout October. ‘The kindest elementary, middle, and high school in Cumberland County’ will be recognized at the Nov. 14 Cumberland County Board of Education Meeting.
Rather than discussing bullying and promoting the usual anti-bullying programs, the school system is choosing to ‘be kind.’ Over the years it has been realized that the typical “anti-bullying” curriculum is less effective and the desire was to bring in a positive self-promoting curriculum to replace it. CCS’ Counselor Coordinator Kristy Curran, DoDEA Grants Project Director Jenny Haigler, and the Anti-Bullying Task Force have collaborated in an effort to create a new anti-bullying curriculum and awareness program that supplies materials and presentations to promote and reinforce kindness.
According to well-known author Lisa Currie, scientific studies have shown that kindness has a great number of physical and emotional benefits and that children require a healthy dose of ‘warm fuzzies’ in order to flourish as healthy, happy well-rounded individuals. Based on that information and further research, a collaborative effort was formed in the CCS to promote social-emotional development amongst CCS’ students. It is the hope that this development will counteract any potential for making a choice to bully.
Overall, there are two ways this social-emotional programming is taking place.
Seventeen (17) CCS’ DoDEA Grant-related schools are using grant money provided to help lower discipline referrals as well as increase peer support and individual sessions through transition consultants. In addition, two kindness programs were utilized to introduce the aspect of kindness and the development of social-emotional learning.
(1) The middle schools (Douglas Byrd, Ireland Drive, Westover, Hope Mills, Max Abbott, South View, Lewis Chapel, Spring Lake, and Pine Forest) have been introduced to Brian Williams, the founder of the Think Kindness program. The students got an hour-long presentation on “what it means to be kind” and were challenged to complete a school-wide kindness project, e.g., a shoe drive, a jean drive, or completing 5,000 random acts of kindness in 15 days, etc. Additionally, a “Kindness Crew” will be created at the nine middle schools to continue the kindness movement throughout the year.
(2) The high schools (Douglas Byrd, Jack Britt, Seventy-First, South View, Pine Forest, Westover, E.E. Smith and Terry Sanford) were introduced to Rachel’s Challenge, a program that was created to honor the memory and legacy of Rachel Scott the first Columbine High School shooting victim. This program allowed the high school students to hear a presentation that challenged them to live life in five different ways: (1) look for the best in others; (2) dream big; (3) choose positive influences; (4) speak with kindness; and/or (5) start your own chain reaction. Additionally a “Friends of Rachel” Club will be created at the eight high schools to continue the movement throughout the year.
This change in culture has tasked counselors at all schools to provide classroom guidance lessons around the areas of kindness and compassion. In addition, all schools are being challenged to complete 5,000 Acts of Kindness in one month. Elementary schools have been provided kindness journals, while secondary schools received “I completed …” and “I witnessed …” Kindness Slips.
Kindness organizers hope to see a decrease in bullying claims and discipline referrals as well as a difference in overall student interaction this school year.