East strives to bring more heart to its halls through the annual Great Kindness Challenge


Throughout the last few weeks of the month, East strives to embody a culture of compassion and kindness by participating in the annual Great Kindness Challenges, decorating the hallways with handmade messages on January 24th.

James Kwak, Eastside Staff

“Extend yourself in kindness to other human beings wherever you can,” said Oprah Winfrey.

Being kind to other people can go a long way, and Cherry Hill East seeks to celebrate the value and message of kindness through the annual Great Kindness Challenge, a chance for kids in schools all around the world to encourage spreading kindness. The Great Kindness Challenge is a positive bullying prevention initiative that strives to improve the school atmosphere and increases student engagement.

The Great Kindness Challenge comes with a checklist of 50 different challenges that students and any person can perform daily. From smiling at 25 people to telling a funny joke, students can use a variety of opportunities to brighten someone else’s day.
Although the checklist isn’t necessarily a part of Cherry Hill East’s Great Kindness Challenge, there is something for everyone to do this week. By simply stopping by Ms. Barr’s office (A015) and picking up a paper heart to decorate, each person can craft a unique message of kindness. After finishing the heart, students can drop them off in A015 by January 24th. The following week, the hearts will be strung around the school, filling the hallways with empathy, friendship, and compassion.

In addition to the Great Kindness Challenge, the “Kids for Peace” organization helps communities in need through the Kind Coins program. In the Kind Coins program, schools and sponsors from varying companies donate money to aid communities in need. For the 2019-2020 school year, the organization has decided to help build a school and friendship center in Tijuana, Mexico.
The project originated in Carlsbad, California, specifically in Jill McManigal’s backyard. McManigal’s two children and their neighborhood friends came together to work towards forming an international non-profit organization they tokened “Kids for Peace.”

McManigal had no idea that a small neighborhood idea could transform into a global phenomenon. However, she did have a set goal in mind when she started the campaign.

“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 school environments where all students thrive,” McManigal told ABC News in an interview.
In 2012, McManigal proposed the idea to three schools in her area. And, after merely a year, 263 schools began to participate in this challenge. Now, over 13 million kids in over 24,000 schools across 115 countries are involved in this worldwide campaign, according to the Great Kindness Challenge website. Over 650 million acts of kindness are being done all over the world, and East now strives to contribute as well.

“Kindness inspires kindness. A lot of times if you do one good thing for someone, it [motivates] them to do one good thing for someone else. So I would like to see a chain reaction of caring and kindness,” said Ms. Barr, the advisor for Interact and the director for the Great Kindness Challenge Week.

Even if it is only for a week, do something nice. Say good morning to a stranger, tell your friend a compliment, and talk to someone that you don’t normally talk to. These acts of kindness may seem cheesy, but in the long run, they do come a long way.
The Great Kindness Challenge holds an ambitious but, through the heart of every student, an achievable goal: making the world a better place.