Suzanne Tobias

Join middle-schoolers’ mission to spread kindness

Members of the Kindness Club at Valley Center Intermediate School are urging people to perform at least 50 acts of kindness over a week later this month.
Members of the Kindness Club at Valley Center Intermediate School are urging people to perform at least 50 acts of kindness over a week later this month. Courtesy photo

The world can be a cold, cruel, unkind place – especially for middle-schoolers.

But a group of fifth- and sixth-graders at Valley Center Intermediate School are trying to make a difference. And you, dear readers, can help them out.

Members of the school’s Kindness Club have issued a challenge: Perform 50 acts of kindness during the last week of this month, share some of those acts via social media, spread the word and make the world better.

“Kindness isn’t very big in the economy now. People just focus on themselves and not necessarily others,” said Zoey Taylor, 11, a student at Valley Center Intermediate.

“I think people should just try to help spread kindness and not be greedy and all about themselves.”

Counselor Nicole Burdette said the Kindness Club started as a spinoff of the school’s anti-bullying efforts. Members meet every Friday before school to organize or perform good deeds.

Since the start of the year, the students have posted “high-five” handprints with positive comments around the school, decorated lockers with candy and led a week-long school-wide kindness challenge. Students performed more than 3,000 acts of kindness that week – things like holding the door open for someone else, thanking a bus driver, picking up trash and putting notes of encouragement in library books.

“We’ve really focused on just putting kindness out there and trying to make people feel good,” said Burdette, who sponsors the club. “Now the kids want to spread out a bit more and challenge other people to get involved.”

They’re calling it the “Be the Change Challenge” because, says 12-year-old Katrina Brauer: “We want to be the change that we want to see in the world.”

Last Halloween, when she and other Kindness Club members attached lollipops and positive messages to all 430 lockers in the building, her classmates’ enthusiasm was contagious, Katrina said.

“People were really happy and overjoyed, and that made me so happy that I just wanted to jump up and down,” she said.

“I’m learning that the kinder you are, the more people get kinder, and the more kindness spreads. And I think that’s a good life lesson: Be kind so others will treat you well.”

Participating in the Valley Center school’s challenge is simple: Later this month, March 23-27, pledge to perform at least 50 acts of kindness. They can be simple things: Leaving a nice note for someone, giving a compliment to the grocery-store cashier, letting someone go ahead of you in line, donating books to a library, calling a relative, baking something to share with neighbors.

Then share your experiences, photos or videos and spread the word on social media by using the hashtag #VCISbethechangechallenge. You also can e-mail nicole.burdette@usd262.net, or send an old-fashioned letter to Valley Center Intermediate School, 737 N. Meridian, Valley Center, KS 67147.

“These are quiet kids who just want to make a difference, and this is a nice avenue for them to do it,” said Burdette, the counselor.

“I want them to connect to the feeling of this kind of stuff because I think they’ll take it further if they can remember how good it feels.”

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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