On the one-year anniversary of a deadly shooting in Las Vegas, students in the Clark County School District are spending the week focused on kindness and respect.
Students at Paul E. Culley Elementary School spent October 1 singing Dianna Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and talking about respect and empathy during an event in the school garden, where officials also released doves in honor of the 58 people killed by a gunman at a downtown music festival last year, KLAS reports.
The effort is part of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s statewide “Week of Respect” from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2 to raise awareness about bullying in schools, and what students can do to stop it.
“It’s important that we’re all calibrated that we’re all sharing the same message that bullying is not ok at any level,” Charles Sebeck, with Clark County School District’s equity and diversity department, told the television station.
Officials are getting that message across through both school activities and a focused social media campaign with local sports starts, student groups, and others that encourages students to “Be an Upstander.”
“We’ve always engaged the community, but this is the first year we’re using social media as a platform to really … customize our message for different stakeholders,” Sebeck said.
The approach seems to be having a strong impact.
“Being kind means showing integrity, showing empathy,” Culley fifth-grader Veronica Giron told KLAS.
“I stand up for other people; for example, when I feel they’re getting bullied or people are teasing them, I stand up and tell them to not do that,” classmate Amy Martin said, adding that she enjoyed helping to hang more than 1,000 folded cranes in the garden as a “symbol of peace.”
“I was helping with the cranes, and I was helping the teacher doing the cranes and putting the beads on,” she said.
Nevada’s Week of Respect is focused on helping students develop a moral compass through practice and positive role models, both components of effective character education.
“(W)e must acquire a moral sensibility – we learn what is right and wrong, good and bad, what is to be taken seriously, ignored, or rejected as abhorrent – and we learn, in moments of uncertainty, how to apply our moral imagination to different circumstances,” sociologist James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote in “The Death of Character.”
“Over time, we acquire a sense of obligation and the discipline to follow them.”
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds offers a free mindfulness-based kindness curriculum for parents and educators looking to reach youngsters with deeper messages about character.
“Scientists and experts who worked on this curriculum continue to expand the research, which not only includes efforts to replicate our research findings but also to spread them far and wide,” according to the Healthy Minds website. “For example, we had the unique honor of sharing insights from studying the kindness curriculum with Sesame Street Workshop to help shape their spring 2017 season on ‘kindness.’”