Every night before bed, Shelly Hyland would read “Have You Filled a Bucket Today” to her son Garrett and daughter Veronica.
The book focused on how to be kind to others, a message Hyland hoped would resonate with them as they got older.
Her wish was validated last month when Garrett, a second-grader at Normandy Elementary School, received $75 from Senders Pediatrics in South Euclid to install a Kindness Corner at his school. The corner’s goal is to teach others how to spread kindness and compassion.
“Being kind makes people happy,” said Garrett, 7. “If people are happy, they will spread love (to others).”
The small station in the school’s library offers sticky notes for positive messages, seven picture books about being kind and “Share a Care” handouts that give examples of how to spread kindness. The station opened last week and hopes to receive grant money to expand its selection of books and materials.
It is accompanied by a snack cart donated to the school by the Hensel family as an act of kindness for kids who may need a healthy snack.
The response to Garrett’s station has been overwhelming, as sticky notes with positive messages fill a note board in the corner. The idea has received so much positive attention that it will kick off a larger school initiative in January to spread kindness. Each month the school will promote a book from the station.
“It’s certainly been an emphasis building-wide to spread kindness and we love to see students generate ideas and pursue them on their own,” Principal Dan Sebring said. “It’s really impressive that he developed this idea as a second-grader, and it gives me hope for the future.”
Garrett and his sister developed the idea through answering three questions their mother posed to them. The questions explored how they could teach others about kindness, how they could show it to others and why it is important to be kind.
The grant from Senders Pediatrics is called the BEE K.I.N.D. (Kid Initiated Nice Deeds) grant. The program was open to patients of the pediatrics company, ages 5-18. The goal is to empower children to see that their kind actions could make a positive difference in the world, according to the grant guidelines.
Five children throughout Ohio were awarded $75 each on Dec. 2 to help them bring their ideas to life. They have until Feb. 17, National Random Act of Kindness Day, to complete them. Other recipients proposed projects like baking cupcakes for the village of Orange’s service department and buying gifts for teachers in Shaker Heights to recognize them for their hard work.
“The response to this initiative was amazing,” said Joan Morgestern, the organization’s director of parent education and community outreach. “Not only did this grant get kids involved and thinking about how they could help the community, it also got their parents engaged and talking with them about how to do so.”
In Garrett’s spare time, he likes to play basketball and soccer with friends. He also likes to play the guitar and watch movies and recently saw “Frozen 2” with his family, although his favorite movie is “Master of the Skies.”
Garrett and his mother will continue to work on the station. They hope to show that any kind act is an important one and that you don’t have to be a superhero to make someone’s day better.
“No act of kindness is too small,” Garrett said. “Anyone can be kind and improve the lives of others.”
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