Skyview High School senior Tyson Cantrell believes “simple acts of kindness can change the world.”
It’s the motivation that compelled his work helping to coordinate the first Community Kindness Day at the Ford Idaho Center last month.
“It’s easy to focus on the negative, but I know that everyone can use random acts of kindness,” he said.
Cantrell played a key role in recruiting students from area high schools to participate in the school kindness week activities and the Community Kindness Day, an effort that revolved around lifting others up. For Skyview’s Kindness Week, for example, senior mentors wrote letters of encouragement to freshmen, the Idaho Press reports.
“The feedback has been phenomenal,” Cantrell said. “We need to let them know that it is OK to be vulnerable because we are here for them, to support and guide them.”
Parents like Kelly Gibbons, who serves on Vallivue High School’s planning committee, told the news site working with Cantrell and other student leaders on the Community Kindness Day was an inspiring experience.
“My interactions with Tyson and other Canyon County leadership students was incredibly encouraging and respectful,” she said. “These youngsters are truly on the pulse of important social issues and are not afraid to take a stand. Our future is in some capable, caring and kind hands.”
Cantrel said he intends to continue the kindness campaign throughout the school year, and is now focused on the important question “How can we carry this past the one week and talk about it again?”
The push to instill more kindness in students and school comports with findings from the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture’s “Culture of American Families” report, which documented parents’ explicit commitment to moral character.
According to the publication:
The overwhelming majority of American parents (96 percent) say ‘strong moral character’ is very important, if not essential to their child’s future.
The Community Kindness Day and school kindness weeks in Idaho are among a variety of different approaches schools across the country are using to bring more compassion into the classroom and school life in general.
Earlier this year, more than 10 million students in nearly 20,000 schools in 100 countries took part in “The Great Kindness Challenge,” for example.
The campaign targets one week per year – next scheduled for January 28- February 1, 2019 – and encourages students to complete as many kindness challenges as possible, with different challenges for different grade levels.
Students with the Junior Edition Checklist, those in PreK through second grade, can invite a friend to play, help someone up if they fall down, or entertain someone with a happy dance, while the Great Kindness Checklist for students in second through 12th grade includes things like offering help to the school custodian, learning to say “Hello” in a different language, or sitting with a new group of students at lunch.
“All kids deserve to learn in a safe, supportive and caring environment,” according to The Great Kindness Challenge website. “The Great Kindness Challenge provides a powerful tool that actively engages students, teachers, administrators, families, and communities in creating a culture of compassion, acceptance, unity, and respect.”