By Julie Larson
Retired Superintendent, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District
Sedona AZ (November 24, 2017) – SedonaKind – its mission, To Encourage Acts of Kindness, Large and Small, Locally and Around the World has successfully made a positive impact in our local schools. Last year, members of the group started the Kindness in Schools (KIS) effort where they went into the primary classrooms at West Sedona School to read books followed by activities on kindness and empathy. As the school year progressed the “Kindness Ladies” developed puppet shows which the children totally enjoyed. The need for additional books to read was granted by the St. John Vinney’s Women’s Auxiliary who gifted KIS $150 to replenish their stock: That is what SedonaKind is all about!
The message of kindness has spread to all our schools this fall due to the partnership of SedonaKind with the Sedona Rotary. Sedona High School and Junior High, Sedona Charter School, Big Park, Mountain View Preparatory in Cottonwood and West Sedona participated in the national ThinkKindness program. Each school had enthusiastic assemblies with the powerful message of the importance of treating people with kind actions. Observing the assembly is not for those who shun loud noises. There was yelling, dancing, jumping, and laughter along with sincere messages of helping your fellow human being. Last year Brian Williams and this fall Gary Xavier, both Black Belt athletes, shared that a “true Kindness Ninja is a person that carries out an act of Kindness without the desire of seeking recognition.” Observing students reaching out to give respectful hugs to each other and seeing the huge smile on the children’s faces brought much joy to the adults present. Students left with a commitment to do five acts of kindness in a week which they will document on a paper chain in their schools.
So, you might ask, does all this really make a difference? According to staff, it does. The teachers at West Sedona School say they noticed a positive difference in the behavior of their students especially on the playground. Principal, Scott Keller stated he frequently sees students assisting one another when in need. “Sometimes it is just a friend helping another to the nurse to get a bag of ice, or other times it is some more deliberate and concentrated act of kindness such as a group of 6th grade students assisting special needs students and sitting with them regularly at lunch time.” Stephanie Jones, Principal at Mountain View, asked her staff if they should have another kindness assembly this year and the teachers enthusiastically responded, yes! Students truly have a better understanding of what kindness is and its impact when presented by a young man who has served his country in Iraqi and learned more by being kind then by being tough.
Focusing on kind behaviors makes our schools and community a better place in which to learn and live. With the financial support of Sedona Rotary and SedonaKind our students will learn and grow in a more positive environment. I am confident that the Kindness Ladies, our wonderful teachers and our local organizations are making a lasting impression on the students in our communities. Like the ripples on the pond – no one knows whom they are going to touch.