Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Great Kindness Challenge

During the last week of January, we took on The Great Kindness Challenge at Star Academy.

The Great Kindness Challenge started as a prevention initiative to improve school climate and increase student engagement. The Challenge was piloted in 2012 with three schools and 1614 students in Carlsbad, CA. The following year, the Challenge grew in 2013 to include 263 schools (113,954 students) and in 2014 included 1099 schools (554,486 students).

We planned some fun events for students at Star Academy!

Events included:
  • Kind Kids Club: Cafeteria Decorations (Smiley Faces!)
  • Kindness Challenge Checklist
  • Learning the Kind-Hearted Hand theme song
  • Quotes of the Day (which were read and discussed in class)
  • Creating a Kindness Hand for the Guinness World Record
  • Kindness Stations at Recess
  • A Lemonade Stand for Parents at pick up (Hosted by the Kind Kids Club)
  • Decorating the teacher's lounge/providing goodies (a surprise act of Kindness for teachers!) 
  • Kindness-themed Fitness Friday
Students also watched videos in class of other students who have changed lives and inspired others with BIG acts of Kindness!

The world-wide results of The Great Kindness Challenge in 2015?

At Star Academy - we also accomplished some AMAZING things!

What I enjoyed most during The Great Kindness Challenge was seeing the happiness and excitement on students' faces while they practiced being kind. Students were very proud of their kindness cards made at recess, their hard work running the lemonade stand for parents, decorating the teachers' lounge, and all of the acts of kindness they completed during the week. I recall a number of times that students stopped and said to me, "Wow! It's really fun doing kind things for others!" Students were also very excited each day to share something kind they had done for someone else. I hope this week reminded students to continue practicing kindness at home, at school, and in their communities.

Students created 346 Kindness Hands, which were mailed to Kids for Peace Headquarters in Southern California to be added to the collage of cut-out handprints!

According to the Kindness Challenge Checklists students turned in, Star Academy students reported completing 2, 619 acts of Kindness during the Challenge Week! Awesome!

Below are some snapshots of the week and all of the fun activities! 

As a result of our hard work and participation in the Great Kindness Challenge, Star Academy is now a Kindness Certified School for 2015! A special thank you to Patrice Westover for her support during the Kindness Challenge Week and all of the parent volunteers and families who donated to our activities!

We couldn't have done it without you! Be Kind and Pass it On!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Walk Now for Autism Speaks - Guest Blogger Jenifer Pearsall

Jenifer Pearsall is a parent of a second grade student at Star Academy as well as a daughter with autism. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology as well as a multiple-subject teaching credential.  She has taught elementary school as well as assisted in various preschool programs.  Currently, she is a stay-at-home mom who keeps busy with the house, kids, one dog, one cat and all of the chaos that it brings!  She is passionate about autism awareness and educating others about the disorder.

Our family has participated in the Walk Now For Autism Speaks walk in Sacramento for many years. The event is a family affair, with not only the walk, but also a resource fair filled with vendors from all over the Sacramento area providing services for individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, including speech, occupational and behavioral therapy, respite services for parents and/or caretakers, and recreational programs for children with disabilities. In addition to the resource fair, there are bounce houses for the kids, music and a photography booth for team pictures!

The walk itself (1.8 miles) begins at Raley Field and continues on to the capitol. We cross the tower bridge (which the kids think is really cool, since we are walking over the freeway!) loop around in front of the capitol and walk back to Raley field. There is always great excitement, with teams walking together, carrying signs and wearing team shirts. There are also people standing on the side lines cheering you on along the way! It is a great time for all!

Registration for the walk is completely free and is done online through the website. In the past, our family has registered as a team for our older daughter, Emma. Our team names have included “A’Dora’ble Emma’s Team” and “Emma’s Entourage”. Please see the photos below! This year the walk takes place on Sunday, May 31st. 

To go along with our month-long education and awareness of autism at Star Academy, we are putting together a Star Academy Team with the team name “A.W.A.R.E.”, which stands for “Academy Walking for Autism Research and Education”! Team shirts are being designed and will be available to purchase soon!

For those who are interested in walking as part of Team A.W.A.R.E., please go to the following link to register under our team name.

Register here to join Star Academy Team AWARE

Click on “Register”, locate team name and select “Join Team”. That is all you need to do! You are able to donate as well as create a donation goal, if you would like. There is also the option to send out emails to friends and family asking for donations. They are able to donate to you personally, or to the team. There is also a Team Page, showing all team members who are registered (children must be registered, as well), donations collected and links to share on various social networks including Facebook and Twitter.

The site is very user-friendly and the event itself is always a fun way to spend a Sunday morning! The event begins at 9 am with the actual walk kicking off at 10:45 am. The morning of the event, we will all meet at a chosen location within Raley Field, and gear up for walking at 10:45! Once we return to Raley Field, everyone is free to go on with their day or if they choose, allow the kids to play in the bounce houses for a bit!

It should be a great time! Please register today and I will be in touch with you shortly about getting your t-shirts as well as answer any questions you may have! Oh, and by the way, all donations are made to Autism Speaks and are tax deductible!

Thanks for reading!