San Silvestre’s Acts of Kindness Challenge
Posted: 12 October 2020
- Communication skills
- Sense of responsibility
- Service Learning – Character Ed
The Acts of Kindness Challenge is a student led initiative at San Silvestre School in Lima, Peru. It was promoted during lockdown by the joint efforts of all of the secondary councils (ages 12 to 17) and focuses on encouraging everyone in the community to be kind. Their first approach towards turning this idea into a whole school campaign was to break it down into four categories that would allow a more focused communication:
- Be Kind to Yourself;
- Be Kind to Those Around You;
- Be Kind to Our Community; and
- Be Kind to The World.
In the process of putting together the activity, they realised that to motivate students and staff to engage and foster true school spirit during quarantine, whoever participated would be able to earn points for their School Houses. The structure of the initiative consisted of two-week ‘rounds’, where different sets of challenges were launched. At the end of each round, videos were made to share the acts of kindness done within the community.
The idea for this challenge was originally inspired by Round Square’s Service Challenge called ‘Drops that Make an Ocean’. The Service Learning Council at San Silvestre saw the small acts of kindness suggested within this activity and began brainstorming about the possibility of launching something similar at school. This initiative would not only allow students to promote a Spirit of Service and develop compassion, but it would also achieve what they had been intended to do since the pandemic broke out: to have the Service Learning Council and the Students Council working together on a unified project.
During the initial meetings guidelines were drafted, objectives were established and roles were defined. For instance, as houses are a big part of the school’s culture and due to quarantine many of traditional house activities were not occurring they agreed that this would be a great initiative to launch as a house activity.
To launch the Acts of Kindness Challenge several platforms were used such as the general councils’ Instagram account (@councils.ss), the house’s Google Classrooms, e-mail and the Digital Bulletin.
The first action launched was as a short inspirational video made by the Service Learning Council and a flyer with the first set of acts of kindness that were part of the campaign.
There were four challenges that made up the the first round of this campaign:
1 – Be Kind to Yourself – Homemade Facial Masks:
With this challenge the girls were encouraged to take a moment to care for themselves and relax by making their own facial mask. The Prefects Council found many simple recipes with basic ingredients for students to use as examples and made tutorials to encourage everyone to try them, but also feel free to create new ones using ingredients they had at home.
2 – Be Kind to Those Around You – Food For Others:
This challenge had the purpose of taking workload away from those who usually cook at home and offering a homemade meal for them. This fun activity has been the real star during this pandemic providing benefits such as money saving, a reduction of food waste, the fostering of healthier diets and experiencing the joy of cooking. As an extra to this act of kindness, the challenge included doing the washing-up after cooking.
3 – Be Kind to Our Community – A Thank You Basket:
This challenge was inspired by the many people that had been giving support to essential workers and sharing it on social media. The Arts and Culture Council challenged the San Silvestre community to join this movement by making a gift basket of food and snacks for people who work to keep our neighbourhoods safe and clean such as police, garbage collectors and other essential workers. They also encouraged everyone to write a thank you message to go with the basket.
4 – Be Kind to The World – Think Outside the Bottle:
This challenge had the purpose of encouraging girls to take care of the world by reusing a plastic bottle and turning it into something useful at home: a lamp, a flowerpot or any other creative alternative.
There were several challenges that the students encountered when planning and carrying out the activity. Possibly the biggest one was working as such a large group. This came with many benefits, such as the fact that responsibilities were shared and more people were reached because all councils were working together to promote this initiative. But it also had drawbacks such as keeping everyone’s motivation high or enabling each council to really own the project instead of feeling it belonged to just the Service Learning Council. This was overcome by having open communication and a feedback session at the end of the first round. Students managed to come to agreements and conclusions that everyone felt comfortable with.
The Acts of Kindness Challenge has had a hugely positive impact on students, their families and the community as a whole. Over 200 students and staff participated and shared their Acts of Kindness during the first round and more than 380 Acts of Kindness were completed. The Media Council worked very hard to put together videos for each of the different houses.
Everyone involved learned and grew during the process of putting together the campaign. But one of the most meaningful achievements was to prove that, in spite of the lockdown, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in service learning that go far beyond simple money donation. With this initiative, students were able to show that a strong component of Service is kindness and compassion, and that we can be kind at any time, anywhere and in many ways. Furthermore, students felt that they could break the old stereotype that the act of service is exclusively reserved as an aid to those in need by proving that it can also be giving your time to be kind and support one another.
The success of the campaign was such that they decided to run it throughout the whole school year and include the Primary years as well.
- Remember the purpose at all times.
- If there’s a competition involved, don’t let it overshadow the main goal of the campaign.
- Be flexible and continuously open to improvement.
- Make sure you have enough feedback sessions with your students every step of the way.
Author: Adriana Lassus, Service Learning Coordinator, San Silvestre School