Elementary students kick off annual kindness challenge in Riverhead

Kindness matters.

Fourth graders at both Phillips Avenue and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools are using their platform to spread that simple message as they celebrate the 2021 Great Kindness Challenge this week.

“It’s not only important to remind kids but adults how important kindness is,” said Adelaide Boese, a Roanoke Avenue Elementary student. “Because then you share the good with everyone, reminding them to be the best they can they be and to be kind to other people.”   

To prepare for the challenge, students worked with Riverhead CAP social worker Shannon Kutner to create “Kindness Matters” signs for each school and kindness ‘kits’ for every classroom. Virtual students were also able to participate by creating signs for their homes.

Students kicked off the week with a virtual slideshow based on the book “Sincerely, Emerson” by Emerson Weber and led kindness activities in their schools based on the book, including writing thank-you letters to essential workers in the Riverhead community.

The Peacemakers are groups of fourth grade students at each school whose mission is to prevent bullying through peer-led initiatives. Riverhead has been participating in The Great Kindness Challenge since 2013 and in 2015, all Riverhead schools participated, which led to Riverhead being designated a Kindness Certified School District by Kids for Peace.

In 2019, the group received national recognition when they were named the United for Kindness Award recipients from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.  

Students in the club are also asking community members to share their acts of kindness by using the hashtag #GreatKindnessChallenge and tagging @RiverheadCAP on social media.

Anyone who would like to participate can download a socially distanced Kindness Checklist here for ideas and inspiration. Some ideas on the checklist include saying ‘good morning’ to 15 people, leaving a nice note on a friend’s desk and holding the door open for someone.

“The students are once again looking forward to community participation and can’t wait to see the socially distanced kind acts,” Ms. Kutner said. “They have learned that when we are kind it creates more and more ripples that spread throughout our school, community and world.”