Vancouver, WA — At their annual ESD 112 Principals’ Meeting, a group of Washougal students presented the results of their April Kindness campaign, which was done to honor victims of February’s Parkland shooting massacre, and to remind people to treat each other with respect.
The five students, who attend Washougal High School, representing the Unite! Washougal Youth Community Coalition, reported on the origins of the campaign, its activities, and its statistical results.
ShaylaRae Tyner explained the campaign’s origins, which are rooted in this writer’s relationship with Ryan Petty, whose daughter, Alaina, was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
“The editor [at Lacamas Magazine] had a personal connection with the Parkland incident, and he wrote an article, which later led our mayor [Molly Coston] make April the month of kindness, which brought kindness into our community and into our schools.”
Leaders of the Unite! Washougal Youth Community Coalition reacted to the mayor’s proclamation and created a special kindness campaign that had significant local impact.
”We created a project called Kindness Week for our school and community to promote thoughtfulness and care,” said Amara Farah. “We created three major goals with this opportunity and we wanted to promote positive action and give people a reason to smile. We wanted to create some source of community after the Parkland impact, and our Mayor declared April Kindness month and we wanted to include the entire community by providing fun activities and random acts of kindness.”
Over the course of a few weeks, the group created a series of fun lunchtime activities designed to get people connected and to put kindness at the forefront of their daily lives.
”From the first day to the last we only saw an increase in participation,” said Rachel Lyall. “With our school principal saying in a time in our society when the norm is to criticize and blame, kindness week modeled the complete opposite.”
Chloe Connors said the activities included a compliment battle, and at Friday’s meeting the students showed the principals a brief skit on how the compliment battle worked, where students tried to out do compliments with each other. The also reported on their kindness boards where people wrote good thoughts. The team created hula hoop competitions that became quite popular. Students filled out smile grams to lift each other up — which increased over the campaign.
There was great enthusiasm from fellow students about continuing these types of activities throughout the year. WHS does plan to continue these kindness campaigns, and Kurtis Villareal said they witnessed groups of kids who never spoke to one another start to open up and communicate.
Villareal reported on the statistical findings before and after the campaign.
”We sent out a survey at the beginning of our kindness week, and at the end because we wanted to know if our students at WHS thought we had a positive culture,” said Villareal. “When we sent this out most people didn’t think that we were so positive, but with the all the activities we saw a big increase in the school culture being positive, which is really awesome.”