What is “Kindness” and Why Now?

To mark the official launch of our Middle School Kindness Challenge today, let’s back up for a bit to talk about what kindness really means.

Kindness is about more than being nice to someone else. It’s a learned skill and a habit that needs practice. In our diverse country, everyone comes from unique backgrounds and unique experiences, so our kids need to learn to appreciate the different perspectives of their classmates and develop empathy and respect for people they don’t know.

It requires that we teach kids to regulate their emotions, actions, and statements so that they can step back and reflect and make a positive contribution to a situation.

Schools are high-pressure environments, which doesn’t always incent the best behavior. What I am talking about is not touchy-feely kindness; it’s in service of a safer, stronger, healthier education system and country. It’s as important as standards and everything else that people think education should be about.

Why now?

Never before have our kids had access to and been exposed to such strong forces in the media and in the world – online and off-line – that challenge their capacity to be empathetic and kind to others.

It’s why they need the skills to navigate such a complex time and practice kindness on a regular basis towards oneself and towards each other, to take care of themselves emotionally and physically, and to interact productively with adults and peers. In no way can we subtract kindness from our expectations about education and support kids the way they need to be supported for our kids and our country to prosper.

With the contributions of our partners, we are proud to launch the Kindness Challenge in schools all across America so that kindness becomes a commonplace skill. The Challenge’s three pathways – strengthening peer relationships, developing positive mindsets, and fostering empathy – will serve to make schools safer and more supportive for all.

You can celebrate the launch of the Kindness Challenge with us by following along on social media, by registering your school to participate, or by making a donation to help the program reach thousands more students.

Together, we can make kindness the norm.