The kindness bug catches on

David Charbonnet, CEO of VIP NeuroRehabilitation Center, speaks to students at Jerabek Elementary School about the importance of positivity and kindness for the school’s first Kindness Week of the year. (courtesy photo)

The kindness bug catches on

Kindness Week spread kindheartedness through the halls of Jerabek Elementary School in October.

The week consists of classroom activities and school events centered on the message of being kind. Laura Stephens, founder of Kindness Week, said all the events are meant to be student centered.

“At Jerabek, the students know we are a team focused on creating a culture of kindness. They are the leaders. All activities are meant to be led by the students – between the students,” Stephens said.

Activities include students giving each other “Caught Being Kind” cards, kindness themed readings by students and classroom activities from homework to art projects, all focused on kindness.

Stephens said this year’s first of three designated Kindness weeks every school year was notable because of the school’s new affiliation with the national No Place for Hate initiative founded by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). According to the local ADL website, No Place for Hate schools “are able to incorporate ADL’s anti-bias and anti-bullying resources with their existing programming to form one powerful message that all students have a place to belong.”

Stephens said all schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels in Scripps Ranch have committed to becoming No Place for Hate schools.

“The combination of all the schools working together to get like activities going during the same week really expanded our reach to students and families,” Stephens said.

At Jerabek Elementary, the week’s capstone was a celebration rally which included speaker David Charbonnet, CEO of VIP NeuroRehabilitation Center in San Diego. Charbonnet, who served as a U.S. Navy SEAL for a year and a half, was injured in a parachuting accident outside of San Diego. His injuries left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Charbonnet spoke to the students about the importance of combating adversity, staying positive and helping others. Stephens said it was a highlight for the students.

The next Kindness Week will be held at the end of January 2020. Stephens said the school is working on an exciting event that is community focused for that week. Until then, as a No Place for Hate school, the students and teachers are finding ways to be kind every day of the year.

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