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School workshop wants to teach kindness along with academics

OAKVILLE– It’s Kindness Month at Holy Family Catholic Elementary School in Oakville.

Kindness and life coach Steffi Black ran Spread the Kindness workshops for kids between grades 1 and 3 this week, to remind kids it’s important to be kind to one another in and out of the classroom.

“I think it’s so important to spread the kindness at school,” said Black. “We talk about academic achievement but what about our character?”

The workshops are 40 minutes long and taught in conjunction with the book “How Full is Your Bucket?” which encourages kids to think about kindness and what it means to help one another.

After the storytelling introduction, Black and her fellow “kindness coach” Ivy Sims, show a film called Kindness Boomerang by Life Vest Inside that shows how one kind act can lead to another.

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Coaches also run an activity where the children are asked to choose a classmate’s name from a box and then write two or three kind words about them. Those compliments are then shared with the class.

“Teaching kindness to children means that kind actions are emphasized,” said Black. “There’s more emotional warmth between classmates, there’s less distance. Kindness is in the human genome, we’re meant to be kind.”

Principal Josey Guerin says Spread the Kindness workshops at Holy Family have one underlying message.

“It evolves around respect,” said Guerin. “We talk about…respect for self, respect for others and respect for the environment. So when we can bring in a workshop like this, it encompasses everything that we believe in.”

Black and Sims have been running Spread the Kindness workshops at schools since February 2011. Black says everyone should be responsible for spreading kindness, not just to help one another but to reap the benefits.

“When you talk about kindness you actually release oxytocin in the brain,” said Black. “It actually lessens emotional distance and blood pressure and…raises the levels of dopamine in the brain.”

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