For the past three years, the kindergarten classes at Windsong Heights School in Airdrie have had a reputation throughout the school and the community: they’re known as the Kindness Ninjas.
“We talk a lot about kindness everyday, it’s a big part of our program,” kindergarten teacher Allie Apels, said.
“When we see there’s a need in our community, we talk about it and it’s very student driven.”
The class often talks about kindness, mindfulness and giving.
In the past, the kindergarten class has done it all, from working with Ronald McDonald House, baking cookies for first responders, making home-made soap for the less fortunate in other countries, and even other smaller acts of kindness in their school.
“We like to rack different classes and that’s when they get to use their sneaky ninja stealth skills,” Apels said.
“They’ll crawl into classrooms and put treats on their desks while other students are out at recess.”
On Thursday, the Kindness Ninjas met their newest recruit: Calgary Stampeders quarterback and two-time Grey Cup champion, Bo Levi Mitchell.
The class has been learning about Mitchell’s contributions in the community outside of football, including Mitchell’s Miracle Day.
Mitchell and his wife take six kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters shopping for presents for their families around the holiday season.
WATCH: Mitchell’s Miracle Day
“To see kids taking time out of their day to look you up and the things you’ve done in the community, to recognize you for it and want you to be a part of their ninja group was pretty special,” Mitchell said.
“It brought my wife to tears.”
Mitchell sat with the kindergarten students, talking about how to help others. He also answered some of the kids’ questions — football and non-football related.
Thursday’s mission: a random act of kindness at an Airdrie seniors’ home.
Before hitting the road, the students presented Mitchell with a red ninja headband and took him through a typical training session with kicks, chops and stealthy movement.
“To have kids that are in kindergarten wanting to make a difference like that really makes you think that the world can change,” Mitchell said.
The Kindness Ninjas then headed to Bethany Care Centre, where they surprised the residents with gifts and flowers they made in class. Mitchell also spent time taking photos and signing autographs.
“I’ve been initiated, I’m now a Kindness Ninja and I couldn’t be more proud,” he said.
Mitchell’s attendance at school on Thursday wasn’t the only good news for the ninjas.
The students also received a $5,000 grant from the Shaw Kindness Sticks Campaign for their work spreading kindness in their school and the community.
“We’re giving kids an opportunity to be in different places, to show kindness in different ways to each other to people they’ve never met before,” Shaw Communications VP of external affairs, Chethan Lakshman, said.
“If we can do that a lot more, that’s a pretty powerful thing to leave behind with somebody who’s this young.”
This year, Shaw handed out 10 grants to schools with ideas that encouraged empathy, inclusivity and respect.
The money is expected to help fund more acts of kindness by Kindness Ninjas, as well as spread the word worldwide.
According to Apels, the school has been sending materials to start Kindness Ninja groups at schools in Nepal, Haiti, the United Kingdom and Europe.
“They may be five and six years old, but they can be change makers,” Apels said.
“If they feel that in their heart now, I think they’ll want to continue making a difference.”