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How one local school celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Week all year round

Valentine's Day gets all the attention, but did you know that February 13 to 19 is Random Acts of Kindness Week? There are many things that Lowcountry families can do now to acknowledge this special week.

It is safe to say that everyone in the world could use a little more kindness. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation offers suggestions on how this week can be celebrated.

  • February 13: Enter the Random Acts of Kindness coloring contest for a chance to win the “swag” package of a poster, sticker, lapel pin and a 2022 calendar. Everyone who submits an entry will receive a sticker in the mail.
  • February 14: Give a gift card. But not just any gift card. Make sure you support a local business by purchasing the gift card from them and gift it to a friend with a note inviting them to take some time for self-care.
  • February 15: Be a kid again. Enjoy doing something that you used to love doing as a kid.
  • February 16: Write a letter. Take the time to write a letter and mail it with a stamp. No technology involved in this!
  • February 17: Sign up with a daily positive affirmation app. This will help you be kinder to yourself.
  • February 18: Let someone know that they bring you joy! Call, write or text them. Let them know.
  • February 19: Join a club, program or group that brings you joy. Be a part of a community.

There are countless actions that you can take to show a random act of kindness – most of which might be spontaneous. The important aspect to keep in mind is that being kind is something you can practice every day – at the grocery store, at work or school, even while sitting in traffic.

How one local school celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Week all year round

We spoke to Jason Kreutner, Head of School at the University School of the Lowcountry about Random Act of Kindness Week. Kreutner makes being kind an important part of the education at University School of the Lowcountry by instilling altruistic habits in the students. The unselfish concern for others that his students practice on a daily basis will continue throughout their adulthood.

Q. Why do you feel that community service is an important skill to teach children? Why does the University School of the Lowcountry make it an important aspect of education?

A. All of our students in our grades 3 to 12 contribute 50-plus hours of service to the community each year. We value empathy and active citizenship, so we integrate these hours of community service into our regular school day program.

Learning at a school that honors helping others and where students and teachers regularly assist others together makes this normal. It also enables them to see first-hand all of the valuable work that our public schools and non-profits are doing. This approach yields young adults who will help others and uplift their communities on their personal journey through life.

We also made commitments in the weeks before the pandemic lockdown to help some of our partner schools in North Charleston. Almost two years later, the USL community has sustained a COVID relief program for students and families associated with our Charleston County School District friends at Midland Park Primary School, Pinehurst Elementary School, Ladson Elementary School, and R.B. Stall High School. This includes school supplies, food, books, toys, cleaning items, and clothes gathered and distributed on Saturdays since March 2020. Our students help gather items, organize them, pack them (bags of diapers) and distribute them.

Q. How do you feel that instilling community service in kids will teach children to be kind to others as they grow older?

A. We take part in intentional community service and random acts of kindness. To show the power of random acts of kindness, it is a tradition since our founding in 2007 to bake cookies and deliver them to our neighbors near our campus and across Mount Pleasant. Students quickly learn the power of a small gesture and a kind word to change someone's demeanor. We then build on and repeat random acts of kindness throughout the year – for each other and for our community.

Q. What other ways do you all instill this idea of "kindness" in the community to the children?

A. Teaching empathy and kindness comes in many ways at University School. Sharing personal stories, reading fiction and non-fiction, learning stories from history, staying abreast of current events, visiting houses of worship to learn about the religions of the world and their adherents, etc. – all things to help us remember there are others in our world.

Q. Can you give me some examples of ways that the children practice kindness every day? Do you all teach about bullying? Do you teach about diversity and acceptance?

A. Students and teachers open doors and greet students and parents as they arrive on campus to begin the day. We hold the door for each other, clean up after ourselves, and thank teachers after each class. We spend time with different people on campus deliberately and engage in conversations to get to know each other better.

From the students

Don't take it from Kreutner, here's what some University School of the Lowcountry students had to see about their experiences and lessons learned through serving others:

  • "Service teaches you to give to others which is a life skill you can use forever." —Scarlet O'Shea, 8th grade
  • "We think it is important to teach children community service because if the children help others with kindness, the future generation will grow up as better people." — Oliver Ivan, 5th grade
  • "Community service gets you outside of your day-to-day life. The more you do community service, the more empathetic you are and the easier it is to talk to new people." —Carys Sills, 8th grade
  • "I personally enjoy helping others because I know that I am changing someone's life, even if it is a small impact." —Sarah Booker, 10th grade
  • "We always make sure people feel accepted." —Mattie Lemmon, 6th grade
  • "We don't explicitly teach about bullying because it is not a problem. Everyone knows what it is. We teach about diversity in all of its aspects." —Lucas Herold, 8th grade
  • "We learn about other peoples and cultures firsthand, and that enables us to respect and understand other people." —Luke Williams, 8th grade
  • "USL believes that being a good citizen is just as important as being a good student. Working with different people and being outside your comfort zone can help you learn to cope with other people that you may disagree with." —Declan Hopkins, 7th grade
  • "We help others without having to be told." —Tess Murray, 6th grade

How do you plan to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week? Head over to Lowcountry Parent on Facebook and let us know in the comments.