Millions of children across the country are participating in the Great Kindness Challenge, a grassroots campaign aimed at spreading happiness and strengthening community in schools.

The campaign was started by Jill McManigal of Carlsbad, California, for her two children and their neighborhood friends. From there, the group created “Kids for Peace,” an international non-profit that launched the Great Kindness Challenge.

“My inspiration is creating a world where everyone is loved and cared for and happy. The mission of the Great Kindness Challenge is to create a school environments where all students thrive,” said McManigal. “We want all children and all students to recognize the goodness in others, and this gives them the platform to do that.”

As part of the challenge, children in schools and youth groups set out to accomplish as many acts of kindness possible, from a list of fifty acts, over the course of a week. Some challenges are simple such as smiling at 25 people and others, such as sitting with someone new at lunch, encourage students to step out of their comfort zones.

In 2012, McManigal brought the challenge to three schools in her community. In 2013, the challenge grew and 263 schools participated. This year, over 12,000 schools and more than 10 million children across the country are participating. The materials needed to participate in the challenge are free for schools.

The challenge is positively impacting schools and communities across the country. Teachers have noticed that the challenge helps students become more aware of their words and actions, creating a healthier learning environment.

“As the children are given permission to go out there and really exert their kindness,” said McManigal. “It creates this joy that is palpable on campuses.”

 

Jowelle M. is a college student interested in sociology, political science, and Spanish. Aside from academics, Jowelle enjoys blogging, reading, music, and spending time with family. She is happiest when she is working with others to improve the community.