Kindness Challenge

Weakley County Students Focus on Kindness
Posted on 03/02/2022
This is the image for the news article titled Weakley County Students Focus on KindnessFor more than a month, Weakley County students have focused on making the world a kinder place. The tradition of participating in the international Great Kindness Challenge fell during different weeks for Dresden, Gleason, Greenfield, Sharon, and Martin schools. Hence, the now familiar reminder -- “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” was echoed over loudspeakers, in artwork, and in acts of advocacy by preschoolers through soon-to-be-graduates from late January to the end of February.

The Great Kindness Challenge, presented by the global nonprofit Kids for Peace, was launched in 2012 to address bullying and to foster connection, inclusion, and compassion.

Primary, elementary, middle and high schools in the area approached the five days of activities in age-appropriate ways.

Dresden Elementary chose to dress to underscore kindness messages such as “Good characters show kindness” when students came to school as their favorite book character and “Dream of Kindness” when they arrived in pajamas. Pre-k through fifth grade were presented with challenges each day such as “Smile at 10 people today” or “Compliment five people today.” Extra challenges were also suggested. They focused on making notes or cards for a teacher, a cafeteria worker, a friend, those who help with traffic in the car line, and a janitor.

Lifeline Blood Services parked between Dresden Elementary and Dresden Middle during their observance of Kindness Week and Brandi Crawford from Lifeline later awarded a pizza party to the class with most participating adults, and students who recruited the most participants won gift cards. Gwen Hardy's class at DES and Maddie Parham and Hailey Parham were the recipients. Teacher and donor Cari Malone won the gift card drawing.

Dresden Middle promoted #BudsGiveBlood challenge to encourage blood donations over social media. Students also sought out hidden kindness hearts that resulted in prizes. Winning seekers were Natalie Mays, Kamryn Brent, Grayson Reynolds, Dawson Slone, Brayden Sudzum, Stephanie Grimm, Kierra Mitchell, Miles Collins, Marissa Owens, Wyatt Staples, Jagger Cashion, CJ Boaz, Carli Vermillion, Cannon Floyd, Bella Hendrix, Tate Moore, Lucas Warren, Robbin Thompson, and Christina Allen.

Daily themes such as “Don’t Hide Your Kindness” and “Team Up for Kindness” meant the middle schoolers got a chance to get comfy for kindness in camo one day and their favorite sports attire on another.

Quotes about kindness were shared each day during announcements to inspire Dresden High School students.

Gleason scheduled their kindness focus on the week of Valentine’s Day. They launched the week with a Valentine of support for local florists as they restored a one-time tradition of flowers and treats delivered to the school. This year the Beta Clubs oversaw the distribution of the goodies, and the local businesses sold more that 250 bouquets or gifts.

Additionally, Gleason School celebrated Kindness Week by challenging students and teachers to perform random acts of kindness. Each day of Kindness Week, a student spoke about kindness and read a quote over the intercom during morning announcements. Gleason 6th graders chose to practice kindness in action by making Valentine cards for members of the Lakeside Senior Living Community. In addition, students in the Gleason Dawg Days After-School Program showed kindness by working together to create a “Bee Mine” banner and Valentine cards for the residents at Weakley County Nursing Home.

Greenfield students expressed kindness with visuals during their week highlighting the goal. Kindergarten through fifth grade stood side by side to form a heart which was captured in a photo. Junior high students spelled out BE Kind in cups on the playground fence. High school students created a kindness board to share kindness with others in note form. And art classes “chalked about kindness” outdoors with quotes and pictures, all drawn in chalk.

Daily themes and dress helped keep the messaging in front of Greenfield students. The week also included an observance of School Board Appreciation as School Board member Jeff Floyd was recognized at a basketball game. Greenfield also held a blood drive and offered Appreciation Stations throughout the school for students to write kind notes to one another or teachers.

During Sharon School’s week, teachers modeled kindness (such as Kristi Parsley taking on another teacher’s car duty), encouraged kindness with a Bingo game of suggested acts of kindness for which students were rewarded, and helped young artists express kind thoughts with art. School Board member Martin Hamlin stopped by and was serenaded by a choral group in appreciation for his commitment of time and wisdom to the school and county.

Due to a Monday holiday, Martin Primary’s Kindness Week started on 02-22-22, a "Twosday" when students enjoyed a book walk, "Taco Twosday" in the cafeteria, and every two hours Taylor Swift's "22" was played so that students and staff could take two minutes to dance, say something kind to a friend, and more. Bus Driver Appreciation Day on Feb. 23 meant these school heroes were treated to hot drinks in the morning and sweets and cold drinks in the afternoon plus some handmade cards delivered by students. Healthcare workers were the recipients of kindness cards on Thursday. Friday brought a kindness potluck with each course carrying messages: Always choose to DISH OUT kindness; It's SOUPER to be kind; Kindness is always a HEALTHY choice; People are DIP-ENDING on you to be kind; and Kindness always tastes SWEET!

Martin Elementary School chose to show kindness and gratitude towards St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in honor of Eleanor LaFleur-Garlitz. Organized by Elementary School Nurse Teresa Lemons, the St. Jude Math-a-thon raised $1,315. Students placed hearts around the school for each dollar raised and counted out the growing total as donations grew.

Martin Elementary classes were also visited by KC, the Kindness Cow. Classes eagerly anticipated the “You’ve been MOOED” news as classrooms, nominated by others, were surprised with treats, encouraging notes, or just wishes for an amazing day. The class had two days to enjoy KC before moooving it to the next class.

MES Enrichment classes also spread the kindness message as they completed 3-way agamographs that encouraged, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Organizers noted the challenging undertaking allowed the students to plan ahead, follow step-by-step instructions, and to problem solve.

Martin Middle wrapped up their Kindness Week with the Youth Coalition making a Kindness Giving Tree where students could place paper hearts with written descriptions of noted acts of kindness. Students heard inspirational quotes on kindness each day and were rewarded when others witnessed their kind acts. Those caught in the kindness act included Chanler Spendlove, Ra’von Bradshaw, Lawson Bragg, Bracen Dowdy, Jenny Smith, Laurriatah Walker, Peyton Lund, Maddie Adcock, Zachery Harris, James Jennings, Cameron McMillin, Rebecca Jones, Brayden Delmont, Cortavis Haynes, Campbell Melton, Erica Wilson, Braylen Glover, Tahj Sparks, Cami Jimenez, Lillian Warren, and Lily Watson.

While younger students were challenged daily during their observance of Kindness Week, high schools participated on a limited basis but with great impact. At Westview, for example, students prepared Valentine Cards which were delivered to residents at Diversicare and Van Ayer Manor.

Dresden Elementary Blood Drive Winners
Dresden Elementary Blood Drive winners

Dresden Middle Dress Up for Kindness
Dresden Middle Dress Up Days

Gleason students preparing Valentine banner for senior adults
Gleason Students Preparing Bee Mine banner, enjoyed by Weakley County Nursing Home residents

Greenfield Kindness Week expressions
Greenfield School’s visual expressions of kindness

Martin Elementary Students Observe Kindness Week
Martin Elementary’s KC the Kindness Cow and art work underscoring kindness messaging

Martin Middle observes kindness week
Martin Middle School students who were caught in the act of kindness during the week

Martin Primary thanking bus drivers
Martin Primary students appreciating bus drivers

Sharon School Kindness Week
Sharon School kindness art, teacher modeling, group singing, and a sample from the Be Kind Bingo cards

Westview students show kindness by preparing Valentines for senior adults
Westview students with Valentine’s Day cards for older Martin neighbors