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One act of kindness at a time

SIBLEY, Iowa-- A little more than a month ago, Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary students began doing one act of kindness at a time to change their school and community through the initiative, "The Kindness Revolution."...

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Laurel Klaassen, Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary School counselor along with students Adrian Munoz,Katie Kruger, Lexie Rozema, Taylor Langstraat, Logan Devries, Kolby Douma, Natalie Leusink, Gabe Greenfield,Justin Jeeninga, and Jeremiah Bargl, who are part of The Kindness revolution. Martina Baca / Daily Globe.

SIBLEY, Iowa-- A little more than a month ago, Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary students began doing one act of kindness at a time to change their school and community through the initiative, “The Kindness Revolution.”

The Kindness Revolution is a national non-profit initiative with the mission to raise the awareness of kindness in communities and schools. The organization is funded by business memberships, which are called Community Champions. One of those Community Champions is State Farm Insurance Agency in Sibley.

Laurel Klaassen, kindergarten through sixth grade counselor, said she was contacted about the initiative by Chelsea Hodapp, an agent assistant at State Farm Insurance Agency.

Klaassen explained each teacher at every grade level received four bracelets, which will be given to students who have done a kind act to other students. Once the student has the bracelet, he or she must hand it off to another who has performed an act of kindness. At the end of each month, a student nominated by a teacher will receive a prize based on his or her act of kindness.

“One act makes somebody else feel good and then that makes them want to do something kind, so it's something that just keeps going and going,” Klaassen said. “To put it in their level of thinking, we talked about how germs can spread sickness pretty fast so this would be spreading kindness germs everywhere.”

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At first, Klaassen said she wanted to make sure kids understood what a genuine act of kindness was.  

“So I asked them how they can tell the difference between a genuine act of kindness and a fake one,” she said. “They told me that you can feel it in your heart, you can see it on their faces when they are really trying to be kind and they are not looking to be rewarded for it.”

Adrian Munoz, a S-O Elementary student, said he received a bracelet after he helped his brother find a book. He said he now realizes the importance of helping other people and he hopes everybody can be part of The Revolution of Kindness.

“I think it’s important because you can be nice to everyone and everybody can spread good things to others,” Munoz said.

Klaassen noted she was hesitant at the beginning about whether her students would get the real meaning of the bracelets, but after a month of working with them, she was gladly surprised.

“I kind of wondered at first if they would really be just doing it for the bracelet,” she said. “But the cool thing about elementary kids, I think they can be very genuine and you give them an exception to aim for and they go for it.”

Klaassen said one of the important aspects of the program is to make the students believe that even the smallest acts of kindness can have a big impact on people, and those experiences can be crucial for kids.

“We talked about how even little acts of kindness are important,” she said. “They mean something to somebody and it doesn't need to be a huge thing. Sometimes those are the things you remember at the end of the day.”

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Student Katie Kruger said the campaign has helped her school decrease bullying.

“I think the bracelets have made a big difference in school because a year ago there was a lot of bullying on my bus. This year, since we have been hearing about The Kindness Revolution, I haven’t seen it that much,” Kruger said.

Klaassen meets with students once a week to discuss their experiences receiving or giving the bracelets.

“At first, kids thought that it has to cost money,” Klaassen said. “I was like ‘No, it doesn't have to cost money. Kindness is free and you can receive it freely and you can give it freely … you can just do anything, it could even be just a smile.”

Klaassen encourages students to not only hand bracelets to their peers, but also to their family members or others outside of school.

“You look to the world and there is a lot of bad stuff happening, so hopefully we can just use these little things to encourage kids to be kind,” Klaassen said. “It doesn't matter where are you from, what you look like, what you have or you don't. You are just a person and it comes down to that.”

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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