A Model for Engaging Elementary School Children in a Lifestyle of Kindness

Learning compassion, much like learning a language, is easiest and most effective when it starts early. Advancing Compassion Project is helping to launch an innovative program that could serve as a model for elementary schools, helping students to think about kindness in their own lives, and use it to help build a better world.

Kindness Starts With Me is being developed by Linda Commito, author of “Love is the New Currency,” and a former elementary school teacher. Its objective couldn’t be more timely, as Linda noted: “When so much attention in the news has been focused on the effects of bullying, teaching a kindness lifestyle reinforces and inspires children to be kinder, more loving and accepting.” From working with kids, she also realized the importance of involving them directly in the development of the kindness project – and she decided to design and test the program with a group of students at a Title One public school working with underprivileged youth.

A Program Developed Through the Eyes and Thoughts of School Children

KSWM_drawing“What does kindness look like? How are you kind at home and at school?” Linda asked students sitting in a circle on the floor. Hands waved as they eagerly offered to share what they were doing to be kind. “Kindness is helping someone to sound out words that they don’t know,” said one student.  Others offered: “Kindness is not calling someone names.”  “Kindness is inviting a new student to play at recess.”  At home: “I am kind when I share my toys or read to my little sister,” or “I am kind when I help my mom to cook.”

But when she asked “How are you kind to yourself?” most of the kids were stumped. Many of us, including adults, have a difficult time finding ways to be kind to ourselves.  When she noticed their blank faces, she reminded them that being kind to ourselves allows us to more easily be kind to others. The students decided that eating healthy foods, exercising, and talking nicely to yourself, even when you made mistakes, were all important ways to practice self-kindness.

As part of the project, she met with 500 students, one class at a time, over the course of five weeks.  Each student was then invited to create a kindness portrait – a picture of themselves being kind. These profiles of kindness were then showcased in an exhibition at a local public library, and later featured in the hallways of the school as reminders of the hundreds of ways to express kindness.  Dr. Barbara Shirley, principal of Alta Vista Elementary in Sarasota, Florida, where the project is being launched, summarized the program’s success: “Teaching kindness nurtures a school culture where children learn to care about others. Our students are inspired by each other’s acts of kindness and take pride in knowing that they are spreading kindness throughout our school.”

Helping Kindness Grow

We at Advancing Compassion Project were equally inspired to support the pilot program, and help it to expand to other schools over the months and years ahead. Support for the project will be used to provide copies of the resulting book “Kindness Starts With Me” to students at the school where it was created, and also to other schools who may be interested in engaging students in kindness and compassion, along with information and suggestions on implementing programs of their own.

With your help, we can not only make a difference in students’ lives, but in the lives of all those with whom they will live and grow. Thanks for your support!

Every donation of $100 or more will support providing books to an entire classroom of students and help the program expand to other schools – and donors will receive a copy of the Kindness Starts With Me book, personally signed by students who are involved in spreading kindness.

KSWM_bookcoverAbout Your Contribution to Kindness Starts With Me

Kindness Starts With Me is supported through Advancing Compassion Project, a U.S. 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. Additional information about Advancing Compassion Project and its programs can be found at www.helplovegrow.org.

How You Can Help: Donations to support Kindness Starts With Me can be made by credit card (using PayPal’s secure transaction site with or without a PayPal account at the links above) or by check (payable to Advancing Compassion Project and mailed to Advancing Compassion Project, 3525 Del Mar Heights Rd. #553, San Diego, CA 92130). 100% of each contribution will be applied to support the ongoing work of Kindness Starts With Me.

Corporate Matching: Many businesses will match employee contributions to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. If your company will match your gift, please complete your paper or online application through your employer, and advise Advancing Compassion Project by email at info@helplovegrow.org.

Donor Acknowledgements: We would love to thank and acknowledge you for your support of this important program. Please add a note in your PayPal entry or let us know at info@helplovegrow.org if you want your contribution to remain anonymous.

Resources and Information for Parents and Educators

Additional information about the Kindness Starts With Me project and Love is the New Currency can be found at loveisthenewcurrency.com/helping-children-walk-path-kindness/.

For parents and educators who are interested in learning more about the program and how you might advance a Kindness Starts With Me project at a school near you, please contact us at info@helplovegrow.org.