Students learn joys of being kind

What began as a monthly initiative two years ago grew into something that now occurs year-round at Greene-Hills School.
Last Tuesday, students from kindergarten through eighth grade kicked off the 3rd annual Random Acts of Kindness Month, an initiative created by special education teacher Sharon Campolo after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. The school began Acts of Kindness month with a school-wide assembly.
Last year, Greene-Hills completed 5,852 acts of kindness, which were over 2,000 more acts than the year before.
“It’s really great seeing [students] empowered,” said Campolo.
During the assembly, Greene-Hills Principal Scott Gaudet recognized a number of students who have taken extra steps to help make the community a better place. From collecting candy and used books for the library to a toy drive, students from all different grades were inspired by Acts of Kindness Month to give back to the community in a variety of ways. One group of girls formed a club that meets twice a week after school to make cards for a nursing home.
Last year, students raised money for charities, wrote positive messages on post-it notes, and made gifts for the community.
“That’s what makes Greene-Hills so special,” said Gaudet. “We have a lot of kindness going on.”
Campolo said Acts of Kindness month has really changed the way students think, as many students at Greene-Hills have decided to take on various projects themselves.
“They truly are thinking kind and choosing kind,” said Campolo. “It’s great to see them taking that initiative.”
During the assembly, students received video messages from people of walks of life, including the families of Greene-Hills staff, the Bristol Police Department, and the
UConn Women’s Basketball team, the Hartford Yardgoats and Harlem Globetrotters.
“An act of kindness is when you do something for someone, but you don’t necessarily expect something back in return,” Campolo told students. “You are the people who are going to make the world a better place. You have that power.”
Throughout the month, students will take part in a variety of activities that promote kindness, and are encouraged to start their own. This year students will make snowflake ornaments for people in the community again. Last year, a dentist office was so touched by receiving a snowflake from the school that it decided to donate toothbrushes for students in need, said Campolo.
The school also will make paper chains again to keep count of their acts of kindness, and will use social media website Twitter to start a conversation with the community about kindness with #GHActsofKindness.
“We’re hoping to get people in the community just talking about kindness using social media,” said Campolo. “We want to show the kids that the community supports them and their choice to be kind. They are making a difference.”
In addition, students will sign a “Kindness Pledge” banner in the school library, to make a promise to think and act kind in every action. The banner will then be displayed in the school’s lobby.
For Campolo, Acts of Kindness hits home, as she attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. At the time of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Campolo was eight months pregnant with her daughter, and wanted her children to grow up in a world where people think and choose kindly.
“If we start…focusing less on the bad in the world and more on the good, then eventually there will be more good than there is bad,” said Campolo, adding that Acts of Kindness also has inspired faculty and staff at school. “The best way to do that is with our children—to teach them that the choices they make is what’s going to change our future.”
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