Kindness Matters

If you drove along the I-5 freeway earlier this month you might have seen a massive KINDNESS MATTERS landmark art installation-–like the Hollywood sign—displayed at The Carlsbad Strawberry Fields. The sign is the Kids for Peace’s collaborative project, part of this year’s Great Kindness Challenge, to inspire kindness in the entire Carlsbad community.

The project was built by Carlsbad Unified School District’s Building and Construction Trades students. The 8-feet tall KINDNESS letters were constructed by teacher Andie Tanner’s class at Carlsbad High School (CHS). The 5-feet tall MATTERS letters were built by Dave Pier’s students at Aviara Oaks Middle School (AOMS). Students worked in groups to trace the letters onto the plywood using a projector, then cut the letters out and used 2”x4”s to brace and stand them up. Next, they primed and painted the letters with a white basecoat. Finally, students representing all of Carlsbad Unified’s schools gathered at the CHS gym on a Saturday to artfully design and paint the gigantic letters. Materials were donated by Logan McEniry, the owner of Oceanside Ace Hardware and a former AOMS and CHS student, and Home Depot.

The Great Kindness Challenge, presented by the global nonprofit Kids for Peace, was launched in 2012 with three Carlsbad Unified schools – Jefferson, Hope and Kelly Elementary Schools – to address bullying and to foster connection, inclusion and compassion. The annual program has multiplied in enrollment each year. This year over 20 million students in 40,000 schools will participate, reaching across all 50 states and 115 countries.

The Carlsbad community was invited to the Carlsbad Strawberry Fields for the January 20th “grand reveal” of the Kindness Matters sign, the kick-off event for this year’s Great Kindness Challenge. Entertainment featured a pep rally, dances by the CHS Royals and the Sage Creek Dance Company, and the Carlsbad High School drumline. Guests visited hands-on “Kindness Stations,” where they decorated placemats for Senior Center meals and helped make a variety of other “kind” creations including bookmarks for the library, “Kindness Matters” posters, gratitude cards for service members, succulent planters, and friendship bracelets for Rafiki Amanis in Kenya. Carlsbad Unified students participated in the 13th annual Great Kindness Challenge during the week of January 22-26, decorating their campuses and holding special “kind” community-building activities. They performed intentional acts of kindness such as helping their custodians, reading to younger students, inviting new friends to sit with them at lunch, and thanking their office staff members.

Carlsbad Unified is proud to be the founding school district of The Great Kindness Challenge. We strive to educate caring, thoughtful, and compassionate young people all year long, and we believe that practicing kindness in our schools translates into a kinder world. This grand art project wouldn’t be possible without the support from the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation, The Carlsbad Strawberry Company, and the Kindness Certified Companies. The Great Kindness Challenge is made possible through the generosity of sponsors OOLY, ViaSat, and Nordson. Kindness Matters!