For Educators: Creating a Wall of Kindness at Allendale Columbia School (Project Idea)
The KIND Schools Challenge team at Allendale Columbia School ("AC") in Pittsford, New York has spent the past several months encouraging everyone in their community to paint a brick with something meaningful to them. Together, the bricks now form a wall of kindness and inclusion. Here’s what the students have to say about their project.
What is your vision for your KIND Schools Challenge project?
Our vision for this project has always been to do something that we could continue well past when we are in the middle school. By building this wall, brick by brick, students, visitors, teachers, parents, and staff can see for years to come how their inclusion in our community is important. We hope to see students continue this work when we have new students and faculty or staff enter our community. Our vision is also to use this installation as a gathering place. It’s right in the center of the middle school hallway and will serve as a message to our visitors about what type of community we represent.
How has kindness become more top of mind while working on this project?
If you ask any student, staff member, or faculty member the question, “Is AC a kind place?,” you’ll surely get a quick answer in the affirmative. But the KIND Schools Challenge project has given all of us at AC a chance to step back and really think about what kindness really means.
As members of our inclusive community submit their artwork in the form of a 3”x7” painted brick, it’s becoming clear that kindness means lots of different things to different people. Throughout this project, members of team B.R.I.C.K. have challenged themselves to showcase the individuality and inclusive spirit that makes AC a special place.
One element of the project was to paint the translation of the word “kind” in every language spoken at AC. Our community comes from all corners of the world. The artistic calligraphy of 9th grader Middy has made these words come alive, from the French “gentil” to the Nepalese “दयालु.” These words can translate back into English as “kind,” or maybe synonyms like “compassionate,” “gracious,” “merciful,” or, in one language, “good heart.”
What is one challenge you’ve encountered while working on the KIND Schools Challenge? How did your team overcome this obstacle?
One challenging obstacle our team encountered while working off the KIND Schools Challenge was the fact that no matter how fun or interesting the project is, there are always people out there who want to not go along with the project to be funny and don’t take things seriously, or just simply don’t care about the project.
This is extremely challenging for the team because if someone writes something that is appropriate, but against the philosophy of the project, we can’t really say "no" to it because this project is supposed to allow people to show themselves freely without being criticized. Our team did overcome this obstacle simply by putting that brick with the rest, because in every community, no matter how perfect it is, challenges will always exist.
Originally published May 2018.