• Jan. 25, 2017
    Kindness Challenge presented to USC eighth graders

    Kindness Challenge Who’s up for a challenge? This is no ordinary challenge. There’s no sweat, no tears, no winners and losers. In this challenge, the goal is simple….be kind.

    Upper St. Clair eighth grade English language arts and social studies teacher Erin Lemon presented her students with a Kindness Challenge. Every week students are challenged to complete one act of kindness that ranges from learning about another country’s traditions to smiling at everyone you see for a day.

    Motivated by other local kindness initiatives, Mrs. Lemon wanted to implement a similar program for her Fort Couch Middle School students.

    “I’m familiar with the Pittsburgh Kindness Initiative, which strives to make Pittsburgh a kinder city through small and simple acts of kindness,” Mrs. Lemon said. “I was looking for a way to bring that mission into my classroom and found this Kindness Challenge on Teachers Pay Teachers.”

    To date, challenges have included the following: ask somebody new to play with you; let somebody go in front of you in line; ask three people about their day; smile at everyone you walk past all day; learn five new things about a classmate; clean up trash around the school; learn about a tradition from another country; offer to share something without being asked; and do a chore at home without being asked.

    Overall, students have responded enthusiastically and most have completed at least one of the challenges.

    “They seem to be excited to do some of the challenges, although some of the challenges take them outside of their comfort zone,” Mrs. Lemon said. “Some students have made it a goal to complete all of the challenges, others complete the ones that appeal to them.”

    One of the challenges was to write a thank you note to one of the custodians.

    “The custodian who takes care of my classroom was so touched that he wrote a thank you note to the student who wrote him the note,” Mrs. Lemon said. “The student was surprised and excited to know that her note was truly appreciated and that the simple gesture of writing a note meant so much to him.”

    At the end of the first nine weeks, Mrs. Lemon hosted a pizza party for the students who completed every challenge and plans to have another kindness celebration soon.

    “I hope that the kids will realize that small acts of kindness can make a big difference to other people,” she said. “I hope that they will try to make some of these actions into a habit, or at least try to think about making an effort to be kind to others.”

    Students are asked to write about their experiences and what they learned while completing each week’s challenge. Here are some of their responses:
    • Over the winter break I woke up two mornings and went straight downstairs to clean up the family room and empty the dishwasher. It felt good when my parents came down and realized they didn’t have to do it.
    • I cleaned my room without my parents having to ask me. It made me feel good because I know my parents are proud.
    • During morning band, I held the door open for the kid behind me with my instrument. I also tried to smile at everyone I saw in the hallway and tried to get them to smile. Also, one day it was raining at the bus stop and a kid didn’t have an umbrella so I brought him one.
    • I completed this challenge by taking my dog out with nobody asking me. This made me feel good because my parents would not have to stand out in the cold.
    • At Giant Eagle, we were in line to pay for a cart full of stuff and I looked back to see a young woman with only a carton of eggs so I told my mom to let her go in front of us.
    • I completed the Kindness Challenge for this week. I worked with new people in science class on a group project. I am happy with my choice to do this because I got to interact with new people. I want to try to complete every week’s Kindness Challenge.
    • A student was absent and we saw his friend sitting alone, and asked him if he wanted to sit with us and it made me feel really good to know in my heart that I made someone feel better. I want to make sure he has a good experience here, because he moved here just last year.