Lauren Mumby-Dewulf wasn’t quite sure what to expect when she put out a call for students to join a new “Kindness Club” at Errol Road Public School last month.
“I extended the invite to Grades 1 though 8,” said the Early Childhood Educator with the Lambton Kent District School Board. “And I was so overwhelmed on the first day I started the club — everyone came.”
In fact, so many students showed up that she had to divide them up into two groups, each meeting at morning recess on different days of the week.
“As a supply educator, I’ve had this opportunity to visit a lot of different schools in the board,” said Mumby-Dewulf, inspired by one of her colleagues who started a Kindness Club at Sarnia’s High Park school. “And I thought, by watching her, that it was just a wonderful opportunity for the students to be involved in their school, community and with one another.”
The first meeting of the Kindness Club at Errol Road took place in January, following news of the fire at Fairwinds Lodge Retirement Home in Sarnia — prompting their first order of business.
“They wanted to help the residents,” she said. “And in such a short amount of time, with a lot of support form my colleagues, we were able to get donations to them by the end of the week.”
Next, they answered the call from Lambton County Library, inviting residents to send valentine cards to local seniors in long term care.
“And now I feel like we need to focus a little bit on kindness to ourselves,” said Mumby-Dewulf. “So that’s kind of our focus throughout the month of February… mental health has been such a focus in our school, that I wanted the kids to have a safe place to come and just talk and be able to get some of those tips and strategies and ways to make themselves feel good.
“And to have a positive image of themselves.”
About 40 students meet regularly with the club, divided in groups of Grades 1 to 3 and 4 to 8.
“A lot of clubs don’t typically include some of the younger children; so my grade 1-3’s are so excited that they have something for them, too,” she said, adding that students write in their own ‘mindful journals’ and are given a stack of blank ‘kindness cards’ each session.
“They’re welcome to leave a note or give a note to somebody else with a positive message on it or a compliment,” she said. “In the beginning, I had to prompt them a little bit more about what to put on those cards, but now they’re telling me what they need to do.”
Mumby-Dewulf said she’s receiving a lot of positive feedback from the teachers at Errol Road, and has already seen a change in the students’ attitude. Now, they’re the ones leading discussions and guiding the club.
“I notice now that it’s easier for them to describe to me the acts of kindness that they’re doing, and they are more willing to share the kindness they have done with other students in the school or at home,” she said.
Their mantra is ‘kindness begets kindness.’
“We talk about situations where people were not being kind, and how that made them feel, and how they got over that,” she added. “And that’s kind of the key — what did we do to bring ourselves out of feeling that, and the strategies going forward if we ever come into those situations again.”
“I am excited to hear from them what they want to do and where they want to take this club as we go further on into the school year,” she said. “I’m just so proud of them.”[email protected]