A Brilliant Idea for Recognizing Random Acts of Kindness

SONY DSCI recently read an article in our local community newspaper, The Positive Press, and had to share.   The headline reads, “The People’s Choice Awards: Cinnaminson High School”, but it was really the first line of the article that caught my attention.  “Random acts of kindness are done every day by Cinnaminson High School students.”  Given my particular interest in Random Acts of Kindness (RAK), I read on and stumbled upon a brilliant idea conceptualized and launched years ago by a local educator.  Fourteen years ago, Robert Krastek, then the assistant principal, founded the People’s Choice Awards as a way to honor and celebrate kindness in school.  Each year since, teachers anonymously nominate students whom they have witnessed performing a RAK.  Those students are then presented with a People’s Choice Award at a ceremony during which they are told who nominated them and why.  This year, twenty-one students received the award for everything from befriending students sitting alone in the cafeteria to starting a school wide recycling project.

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The details of the article are slim when it comes to the actual ceremony, but I am picturing an assembly in the school auditorium during which these twenty-one students are honored for their kind deeds in front of their peers.  Along with the award, the students are presented with gift certificates donated by local businesses who also wanted to celebrate the actions of this special group of students.  Public recognition and prizes, many of which were gift certificates to local eating establishments, are a powerful motivator for teens and I have to believe that many students are motivated to be kinder to their peers in order to be an Award recipient.  While the initial motivation to be kind may be for selfish reasons, I believe that the pride one feels once they’ve completed a RAK becomes the motivator for ongoing kindness.    The People’s Choice Awards puts front and center the issue of kindness and allows for discussion among teachers and students about how each individual can make the world a happier place with their own kindness as the tool.   Mr. Krastek is no longer at the school, but his idea and its legacy lives on and I can’t help but wonder what might happen if every school adopted a similar program.

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“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” – Anonymous

How does your school or community group recognize Random Acts of Kindness?

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