“Kindness counts and so do you. You never know what your kindness can do.”

~Linda Commito

At Alta Vista Elementary, a Title One school in Sarasota, Florida, we created a kindness program, which we called Kindness Starts With Me.

Here’s how it started.

I asked each class of students, sitting in a circle on the floor: “What does kindness look like? How are you kind at home and at school?”

Cook For My Family | Kindness Starts With Me“Kindness is not calling someone names,” said one student. Another said: “We are kind when we help each other win,” and a third student chimed in, “Kindness is inviting a new student to play at recess.”

At home: “I am kind when I share my toys or read to my little sister or brother,” or “I am kind when I help my mom to cook.”

When I asked “How are you kind to yourself?” most of the students didn’t have an answer. So many of us, even adults, have a difficult time finding ways to be kind to ourselves. I reminded the students that being kind to ourselves makes it easier to be kind to others.

They decided that these were important ways to practice self-kindness:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising
  • Talking nicely to yourself, even when you make mistakes
  • Being true to yourself

500 students, about 15 – 20 at a time, were invited to create a kindness portrait – a picture of themselves being kind. These creative, colorful profiles were then mounted and displayed at Selby Library for a month and are now hung in the lab rooms and hallways of the school as reminders of the hundreds of ways to express kindness.

Kindness TreeAs part of The Kindness Starts With Me program, the students filled out SMILE cards to acknowledge each other for the kind things they did. These cards, color-coded by class, were then put onto a large Kindness Tree in the cafeteria where students could see how quickly and easily kindness could grow.

At a time when so much attention in the news has been focused on the effects of bullying, the kindness project reinforces and inspires children to be kinder, more loving and accepting.

Dr. Barbara Shirley, the principal at Alta Vista, which recently earned a gold award for positive behavior awarded by the University of Southern Florida, loves the “Kindness Starts With Me” project. She says, “Teaching kindness nurtures a school culture where children learn to care about others. Our students are inspired by each other’s acts of kindness and take pride in knowing that they are spreading kindness throughout our school.”

This website is a great forum to share your message of kindness.

Please spread the word, send friends to this site, like us on facebook.com/kindnessstartswithme and donate to keep it going.

Kindness starts with you and me.

Together we can create a kinder world – one act of kindness at a time.