Combating bullying with kindness

Students at Liberty Elementary School in Boise took part in a special event Thursday.

BOISE - There's a kindness campaign that is spreading rapidly across southern Idaho.

In a little more than two years, a "Kindness Begins With Me" movement that began in Pocatello has taken hold in 18 schools.

A family used a bullying incident involving one of their kids to send yellow roses to the school anonymously, in hopes an act of kindness would create a change of heart.

Now t-shirts have replace roses and a community kindness program has taken hold, a year-long celebration that begins on the third Thursday of September and centers on kids being kind to combat bullying in schools.

At Liberty Elementary School in Boise today is Kindness Day. And as the kids collect in the gym to kickoff their "Kindness" campaign they are reminded that it's more than just a one-day event.

"They need to understand that we're trying to do more than just have them wear a shirt," says Erin Oldham, coordinator of today's assembly. "We're trying to actually make a difference in our world."

But within these walls that difference is on display every day in a jar in the front office.

"They're looking for kids doing kind things for others," says PTA member Chelsy Bittick, explaining the Kindness Jar.

On the slips of yellow paper in the jar are the names of kids caught doing something kind around school.

"Yeah, we have weeks where it gets pretty full and it's kind of bursting and that's really great to see," says Bittick.

And every other week a name gets pulled out of the Kindness Jar for a prize, which is what we had principal Jennifer Weske do.

"So we have Jack," says Weske. "And this was given to him by Mrs. Orler in 6th grade."

So down the hall we went, to Mrs. Orler's 6th grade class, to find out just what Jack did to get into the Kindness Jar.

Mrs. Orler says 11-year-old Jack Moore is always willing to help.

"Um, it was because I had helped her file stuff for the other class, like our Thursday folders that we do," says Jack, when asked what act of kindness earned him a slip in the jar.

Orler, who helped start the Kindness Jar, says it would be nice to have a school full of Jacks.

"Yes, it would be, it would be," says Beth Orler, Jack's teacher. "So, that is our goal, by the time they leave here they know what it's like to be kind and look out for others."

That's why Liberty Elementary joined the "Kindness Begins With Me" program a year ago, a year-round community movement that hopes to counteract bullying in schools.

According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, it's actually gone down by about 8 percent over the last 10 years.

Awareness has made the most difference.

"Somebody's not playing with them at the playground and they just go and play with them," says Oldham. "Those little, tiny things make the biggest difference in the world."

And it all begins with a jar, or an assembly, where it hopefully spreads beyond a sea of yellow t-shirts.

Liberty's Kindness Week consisted of "Mix-It-Up Monday," where students were encouraged to sit by someone new during lunch and "Tell-em Tuesday," where kids and staff are supposed to spread compliments.

Every third Thursday of the month, students are supposed to wear the yellow "Kindness Begins With Me" t-shirts as a reminder and a kind-of monthly kindness rally.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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