Teen Uses School Project to Foster Kindness in Young Students
After a mass shooting happened at the Jewish synagogue where she took Hebrew classes as a child, she knew she had to do something to help her community heal.
A senior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, PA, Lauren Haffner was tasked to come up with a project for the Center for Advanced Study, a program at her high school that offers accelerated courses for gifted and talented high school students. So she worked with her trusted mentors and local officials to develop 'Keeping up with Kindness,' an educational program to encourage children to be kind to each other.
"They're the next generation and what they're thinking is key," Haffner told Pittsburgh TribLive . "It's key to making change and it's key to making good things happen."
She spent the last four weeks with a group of second graders at Colfax Elementary in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. That's the same neighborhood where a gunman killed 11 people in a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue last October. Lauren taught her project in the same classroom she sat in as a student, with the same teacher, Mr. Grujich.
As part of the program, she read the children stories and engaged them in various interactive projects to build kindness, including writing nice things about their classmates and teachers on scraps of construction paper. Then, they filled a bucket with the scraps, an activity modeled after the book Fill the Bucket by Carol McCloud. After filling the bucket, the students gathered together and shared the messages they had written about each other.
(Source: TribLive )
"It teaches them that it's okay to be nice to one another, and you're expected to be nice to your neighbors, your friends and your community members," Haffner said. "It's not only going to change the world, but it's going to make you a better person and a better member of your community."
School and city representatives praised Haffner for bringing 'Keeping Up With Kindness' to Colfax. The students look to their older peers for direction, and young educators like Haffner can keep their attention.
"At Colfax, we believe that kids are relational learners," Tamara Sanders-Woods, Colfax's principal, said. "They learn from who they like."
(Source: @laurenhaffner )
We look forward to seeing how Haffner will continue to spread kindness in her community and beyond.