Kindness is Simple campaign teaches students not to bully

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Jefferson City middle school created an anti-bullying campaign after a school counselor saw a little girl's speech on Youtube.

Lewis and Clark Middle School started the Kindness is Simple campaign to teach students the positive side of not bullying. 

"The whole Kindness is Simple campaign came from this video of a very young girl just talking about how it's so great and like the best thing you can do is be kind," said Haylee Rethman, a language arts teacher.

The school counselors and clubs have sent out activities for students to do in their advisory class at the beginning of the day. Rethman started one after getting the idea from Pinterest.

"I'm calling it white board graffiti, and every morning I'm going to have one of those up for my kids to just write down something to make their day a little bit brighter. Yesterday, it was what did you do to be kind over the weekend and today it was what can you do to be awesome," Rethman said. "I think that's really catching on with the kids. I think they like coming in, seeing that, and being able to write on the board something just to brighten someone else's day."

Camryn Swinfard, a student council member, said the group is trying to get people to smile more.

"We're doing this thing where you hand a card to someone, and they read the back, and they're supposed to smile, and then they give it to someone else to do the same thing. It's just a pattern," Swinfard said. 

She said it made her feel good when someone gave her a card.

"It makes me feel like someone cared about me," Swinfard said. "Everyone has the right to smile and be happy."

Alexis Goff, a seventh grade student, said she has noticed more people smiling. 

"I think it's important that we learn kindness now, rather than later down the road, because if we learn it now, it's going to be, like, a lot easier to make friendships and relationships and, like, get a job," Goff said. "If you're not kind, like, nobody's going to want to be your friend. They're not going to want to be around you if you're not going to, like, smile."

The Turning Resources and Energy into New Directions, or TREND, club had students trace their hands to put up in the cafeteria.

"They had everyone in their advisories make hands, and there's a big poster paper downstairs in the cafeteria, and it's, like, 'Take a Stand and Lend a Hand to Stop Bullying,'" Goff said. "Everyone made them like they are all lending their hands to stop it."

Rethman's advisory class did an activity the TREND club sent out to the school called How Do I Want To Be Remembered.

One student wrote, "I want to be remembered as someone who is there when people need me, whether they need me to laugh with them or cry with them. I want to be there for people. I want to be remembered as someone who is kind and supportive and lovable."

"These great things came out of these kids, and it made me really happy to see,"  Rethman said.

Linley Chapman, co-sponsor of the TREND club, said it works to make a positive impact at school and in the community.

"We've always had a positive spin on things in TREND club," Chapman said. "Every October is National Bully Prevention Month, and we always have the whole school involved somehow, but we really want to teach kids what to do, rather than what not to do, so rather than 'don't bully,' we want to push 'be kind, be helpful, be considerate, and do good things.'"

She said the whole school is taking part in the campaign.

"I think it's really great because our whole staff is involved, and I think most of the clubs are getting involved," Chapman said. "It's a way I think the whole staff and the students to feel like they're more of a community here at Lewis and Clark, so I think it will be really positive."

Chapman said the school is planning to continue the campaign for the rest of the school year, and Rethman said she is really excited.

"Our counselors sent out this little lesson plan activity that we started with," Rethman said. "I just kind of took it and ran with it because it was such an awesome idea. It was like something to highlight our positives, and I just really loved it, so I jumped on board, and it's been awesome ever since."