Students at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Belmore have approached their latest whole-school project with great care and goodwill.
The school’s kindness campaign began last term and has already had a positive impact on the school community.
Principal Elizabeth Russo said the school’s Student Representative Council led the initiative, which aims to overturn the culture of teasing that can be prevalent among students.
In classrooms and on the playground, students are encouraged to listen kindly to their peers without interruption and help wherever they see a need. Teachers and student leaders acknowledge acts of kindness with ‘Joseph tokens’ that allow students to vote for an end of term reward for their good behavior.
Kindness … makes friendships and brings people together.
Stories of good deeds are also shared each week at school assemblies.
“It is really important [to share the stories] because it’s about changing culture,” Mrs Russo said.
“Children enjoy teasing; it’s almost a way of life. Our kindness campaign has been very helpful, because it acknowledges that different children have different perceptions of things.
“Children’s attitudes to each other have changed. Before when you walked out into the playground children would complain to you. Now they come up and say ‘I have a kindness story!’ It’s very positive.”
The SRC, which includes 12 students in Years 3 to 6, give up to 20 tokens a day to acknowledge acts of kindness.
Year 6 student Joshua El Zakhem keeps a Google document to record each act of kindness acknowledged by himself and his SRC peers at school. They will eventually include the stories in a kindness book.
“Sometimes people they have done things that are very similar, they’ve just used different words to express them, so I will see if there are others from a different grade who are willing to share their story,” Joshua said.
“Some are about playing kindly together and inviting people to join in their games if they see them sitting by themselves. With the campaign you learn to help someone and learn to make friends more easily.”
You have lots of opportunities to learn and grow.
Year 5 students Danielle Inton and Adrielle Bechara are also part of St Joseph’s SRC.
“People are reporting helping their friends if they have fallen over or get sick,” Adrielle said. “Kindness is something you need to have. It makes friendships and brings people together.”
Danielle said the best part about the campaign was seeing each thoughtful deed inspire others.
“People are being kinder and getting in less trouble,” she said. “For example, if you’re hurt and have been kind to others they’re more willing to be kind to you. The kindness spreads all around if you start it.”
“Kindness is a quality that everyone has in them, but people need to show it to see it. If you become kind to someone you’ll be respected, respect them, and you both have lots of opportunities to learn and grow.”