Kindness Campaign makes its mark on Kaneland students, community

By on October 4, 2013

KANELAND—Annie Dybas is an eighth grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School who recently learned a lesson that kindness can make a difference to fellow students.

“If (students are) in the hall walking in the hall alone or sitting at lunch—even if you just wave ‘hi’ in the hallway or smile, it may not be something to you,” Dybas said. “But to them, maybe if they don’t have a lot of friends or if they don’t know how to smile or if they’re being bullied, it may mean the world to them because it doesn’t happen to them regularly.”

This lesson learned is thanks to the program “Rachel’s Challenge,” that Dybas and other students saw during the day at Harter Middle School, promoted through Kindness Campaign 2013.

The Kindness Campaign is hosted by Peak (Promoting enrichment and kindness) for Kids, Inc., a community collaboration that encourages and promotes kindness acts and keeps kids connected and involved in the community.

Renee Dee is the founder of Peak, a nonprofit organization.

“We want to help promote kindness in the community and businesses and schools and homes and organizations,” she said.

Rachel’s Challenge
Rachel’s Challenge is a national program based on the inspirational writings of Rachel Joy Scott. Scott was one of the students killed during the the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999.

The Rachel’s Challenge event teaches people to be kind, and was presented to the community Tuesday evening at Kaneland High School.

“When we started our Kindness Campaign this year it all tied in well with everything that we were trying to accomplish—Knights Against Bullying, trying to get the behavior,” said Brenda Johnson, Kindness Campaign partner. “Just getting kids to be kind to one another, compassionate to one another.”

Johnson said that this program also tied into what the bullying task force committee and Kaneland School District was trying to achieve.

Kindness events
The Kindness Campaign has numerous campaign collaborators who support the campaign effort. Last month, the movie “Bully,” presented by Changing Children’s World Foundation, was screened at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

Future Kindness events will include Peace in the Park by the YWCA of Aurora, which will be at Phillips Park in Aurora on Saturday. This free event will have hamburgers, hot dogs, kid activities and prizes.

Sugar Grove Public Library will offer kind-themed story times and crafts this week through Oct. 19.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois will present “Be A Part of the Change” at Harter Middle School, which will premier the film “I Am the Music: A Rock Operetta” on Friday, Oct. 18, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

KiKWeek, Kindness in Kaneland will take place at Kaneland High School Oct. 13-19, where random kind acts will happen.

Munchie P’s in Elburn will have a fundraiser Oct. 16. Funds raised from all orders will go to the Kindness Campaign.

Character Fair will have fairytale princess characters and be held at Rosary High School in Aurora on Oct. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Community leaders interested in checking out a Kindness Campaign meeting are welcome to attend on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 2:30 p.m. at Kaneland High School.
Kindness perspective

Leigh Ann Reusche advocates kindness. And rightfully so—she’s the Kindness Campaign’s director.

“It’s kind of the whole package of being empathetic, of being compassionate, of being tolerant, of being accepting, rather than just being nice,” Reusche said of the campaign’s message. “(‘Nice’) just kind of sounds trite. But ‘kindness’ is really a richer word.”

Clayton Hannula, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Harter Middle School, came away from “Rachel’s Challenge” with a kindness perspective.

As a result, he plans on showing kindness in school.

“Some kids in my school can get picked on a little bit more than others,” Hannula said. “And I’d like to make a change to that and change how people think and judge people, as well as myself.”

He’s thought of proactive ways to help others, too.

“Maybe if someone goes up and they hit their books down or something like that, I can pick them up,” Hannula said. “If someone (is ) in a fight or something like that, I could come in and just change the subject or talk to the person who is bullying them and try to stop it.”

Laura Reusche, 11, is a sixth-grader at Harter Middle School, and also the daughter of Leigh Ann. She has some ideas on why it is good to be kind to others.

“It’s just better because they don’t have all of the problems,” Laura said. “And it just makes the world a better place.”