"We made sandwiches and lunches to hand out to homeless people in our community. We wore special gloves, and we decorated the lunch bags."  
"We collected food for our neighbors who can't buy food for themselves."
"I helped one of the little kids in early childhood zip up his coat."
"I helped a kindergartener tie his shoe."
"We visited senior citizens, drew pictures with them, talked, and played cards."
"We went outside...but not for recess... we just walked around picking up garbage."
"We made a plan to smile at everyone we passed by today."

At PCS we give our students lots and lots of opportunities to be of service to others, without reward, for the pure pleasure of doing so. We offer them the simple opportunity to be kind. But we don't stop at the deed; rather, we spend time identifying needs right in front of our eyes, figuring out correct responses to those needs, and then reflecting on how it made us and the recipients feel.

Opportunities for kindness are all around us. They emerge continually in different forms. And we work hard to identify these opportunities and to honor each child - as everyone - is kind in her or her own way. Some have a keen ability to pick out a lonely friend on the playground. Some jump up to clean up spilled soup. While others hold the door or just offer a genuine smile. Kindness is also knowing when to give someone a wide berth - to respect their privacy and give a friend space and time.

We don't try to be kind on a grand scale at PCS. But we do acknowledge that one small act of kindness can spread. And so we start with ourselves - modeling kindness whenever we can. And we show each child that everyone can bring some relief and wellbeing to someone else's life. And, if they do that, it's a victory for all involved. This is how it starts. The lifelong lesson is simple - when you are kind to someone else, you feel good; and so in turn, you are being kind to yourself.

Kindness is the starting point from which all other values grow. Honesty, forgiveness, patience, generosity, collaboration - none of these can happen without kindness. Kindness creates a sense of warmth and openness that allows us to communicate much more easily. When we are kind, we discover that everyone else has feelings and needs  just like us, and a spirit of friendship forms.  A community cannot function without kindness. In everything you do, seek out the kind solutions. By doing so, our lives will become meaningful, happier, and more peaceful; we will make a positive contribution to our community and to our world. What small act of kindness have you handed out today?

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AuthorKathryn Quigley