BURRILLVILLE – It starts with a greeting, and at Burrillville High School this week, an effort to prevent isolation and bullying includes a series of kind deeds aimed at bringing the community together.
“Hello Week,” kicked off at BHS on Monday, Sept. 23, a program aimed at creating a warm and welcoming environment at the school, inspired by those called to action following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the belief that such tragedies are preventable.
In an assembly on Monday, students Sierra Madden, Elizabeth Charpentier and Samantha Mansolf called on their peers to create a culture of inclusion at BHS, with small acts such as greeting someone they don’t know in the hallway, or sitting with someone new at lunch. On “Welcoming Wednesday,” students have been asked to wear their brightest, most “welcoming” colors.
And on Thursday morning, the anti-bullying effort becomes a fun, community-wide call to action.
The school has partnered with Do Kind, a non-profit that challenges students to complete a list of 50 kind deeds in a 24-hour period, with a reward of $500 in funding for their program of choice. The community is welcome to join in the fun and help the students to reach their goal.
Do Kind was created in 2018 by Tim Fauth, a 20-year public education teacher and administrator in New Jersey and Massachusetts, who wanted to address gap in education as it relates to social/emotional learning and fundraising.
BHS social worker Mandy LeComte first heard about the program on the radio in June, and brought the idea to administrators.
“After some research and a conference call with the founder Tim Fauth, our MTSS team decided it would be a great opportunity for BHS to spread kindness and fundraise simultaneously,” said teacher Ashley Crenca, who coordinated the effort.
The list of deeds will be published Thursday morning, and participants are asked to take a picture with a sign that says “Burrillville High School,” #DoKind and the date.
For the deed to count, all 50 pictures must be emailed to the organization. Staff at Do Kind, in consultation with school personnel, will review the acts of kindness.
If all 50 deeds are approved, funding in Burrillville will be used to enhance the school’s behavior support initiatives. Through the program, students who are caught following expected behaviors are regularly rewarded with Bronco Bucks, which they can enter into raffles for items such as gift cards, prom tickets and yearbooks.
“We do raffles every month and then raffle off larger prizes at the quarter and semester marks, so it can become expensive,” explained Crenca.
Through Do Kind, the reward money for completing acts of kindness is awarded the next day.
Fauth’s program, like many anti-bullying efforts across the country, is inspired by some concerning facts.
The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics noted that 21 percent of children ages 12-18 have experienced bullying. According to the World Health Organization, by the age of 18, the average American youth will see 200,000 acts of violence on TV or online.
Meanwhile, when it comes to funding for education, 91 percent of teachers spend their own money on school supplies and resources.
On Monday, guidance counselor Peter Berthelette helped the three student leaders to present the purpose of Start with Hello Week, and the DoKind Challenge. The message will be strengthened through smaller group activities and discussion in classes and advisory throughout the week.
“Our main goal for the week is to help create a more warm and welcoming environment in our school and within the community around us,” said Crenca. “We hope that this week motivates our student body, faculty, staff and community to perform acts of kindness more frequently and consciously work to make the world a better place.”
NRI NOW will follow the challenge and let readers know how they can participate once the information becomes available Thursday morning.