Children at Jefferson Elementary School in Eastlake are doing random acts of kindness

Jefferson Elementary School in Eastlake has spent the school year making a concerted effort by the entire student body of 489 students in grades K-5 to be kinder.

By Mimi Vanderhaven

The #bethekindkid movement started in Pittsburg in 2016 by two ambitious first graders and their teacher, who shared a mission to make the world a kinder place by empowering students to share their kindness with others.

What began as an afterschool effort to make items to support local charities, blossomed into a means for children to reach out to others and see how they can help, as well as look to fellow students and show their kindness. The students decided to create and sell #bethekindkid T-shirts to other schools to further their charitable mission. To date, more than 16,000 T-shirts have been sold.

Locally, one of the schools participating in the program—Jefferson Elementary School in Eastlake—has spent the school year making a concerted effort by the entire student body of 489 students in grades K-5.

One of the first needs the students wanted to address was hunger, so they held a food drive and donated the proceeds to the local food pantry.

“This movement has improved our school culture by bringing our students, staff and the community together with a common goal,” says Principal Lisa George, noting that the students and teachers made posters and decals to proudly display their initiative around the school halls. “We have observed students as well as staff doing random acts of kindness. We started a student and staff Shout Out bulletin board to acknowledge these kind acts.”

In the month of February, the school followed a Random Acts of Kindness calendar encouraging ways to show kindness on a daily basis.

Each teacher was provided a #bethekindkid T-shirt from the organization that trademarked it, JAM Enterprises. They wear them on Wednesdays.

Lisa also reports a nice trickle-down effect of reduction in discipline as well as the severity of the incidences.

“Both students and staff have become more aware of how they are treating one another,” she says. “It is not unusual to hear staff and students asking one another when conflict arises, ‘Is that being kind?’ It has opened up communication with parents to have common language when talking about kindness.”

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