Kindness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Essentially, sharing a smile with someone, supporting a worthy cause, or letting someone go in front of you in line are examples of kindness as followed by that definition. Seems simple yet how often are these acts carried out?

If one thinks about the subject a bit further, one can assert that kindness is a choice. In any given moment, opportunities to show kindness exist. The question is if that opportunity is put into action or not. And going one step further, what impact does that choice make on the surrounding environment?

School campuses have suffered a dramatic change in school cultures and climates over the last decade, even more-so the last few years. Not talking about ethnic cultures and the weather but about students getting along with one another. One can say, there’s been a lack of kindness displayed on campuses. 

The Great Kindness Challenge was created in 2011 as an answer to a southern California school’s quest to change their school climate. The success of the pilot program quickly spread and a global movement of kindness began.

GKC was designed by and is presented each year by the non-profit organization Kids for Peace, which was co-founded in 2006.

In the 20-21 school year, as Gustine students were having class at home online, Gustine Elementary School counselor Adriana Herrera came across the challenge and brought it to the students and staff in hopes of boosting morale and offering motivation to the students through making online presentations. The virtual interaction with the students was positive, Herrera described, the kids were excited with the activities and the discussions.

Herrera took the steps to get the elementary school certified as a participant in GKC and helped organize the on-campus event last year.

GES will be participating in their third Great Kindness Challenge when the 2023 global movement kicks off this upcoming Monday.

“This is a time for us to come together, students, staff, parents, district and discuss a topic we don’t often talk about,” Herrera explained. “Promoting school culture, creating a safer environment with acts of kindness as the focal point all week, unites us as a school.”

The hope is that the experience will help kindness become a regular choice made beyond the week of fun activities.

Students will have a kick-off rally on Monday when they will learn more about the goal of the week and hopefully be inspired to join in the effort. Students will also receive a sheet of challenges with various acts of kindness listed. They are encouraged to complete the list during the week.

Morning announcements will include a specific challenge for the day, for example,compliment a friend.

Herrera will be making classroom presentations throughout the week about what kindness is, how to share it, the effects of it and so forth. She has also prepared information for parents to take part in the challenge at home with their kids.

There will be recess activities available and teachers have the opportunity to incorporate kindness curriculum materials into their classes. 

ASB planned the following dress-up days to help promote the kindness challenge all week.

Monday—Kindness Rocks: wear rock’n’roll clothes.

Tuesday— Never Too Old for Kindness: dress like a senior citizen (100th day of school).

Wed-nesday—Round-up Kindness: wear western attire. 

Thursday—Glow with Kindness: wear neon/bright clothes.

Friday—Kindness the GES Way: wear red.