What does your child want for the holidays?
Some ask for the hottest video games. Some want the latest clothes.
Others just want to go a day without being teased.
To help achieve that goal, this week all 5 Westport elementary schools have celebrated Kool To Be Kind.
K2BK — as its koolly called — is an anti-bullying program created by 4 Westport women. Staples High School students are trained to lead interactive lessons about empathy, kindness and handling tough situations. Over 100 Stapleites — split into teams — now work with 3rd graders in every school, 5 times a year.
They introduce concepts like “allies, bystanders, targets and bullies,” and probe issues like why “kool” can be a synonym for “mean.” Teachers and 50 parent volunteers — working with pre- and post-lesson plans, and supplemental reading — help the program run smoothly.
Long Lots student Jackie Zinn nailed it. She said she liked K2BK because it showed her how to “stand up for kids and what ways I can help make a better community.”
But 3rd graders are not the only ones learning about empathy. Staples students say they now see their peers and entire school experience through different lenses.
“K2BK has made me more aware that even little actions can greatly impact someone’s life. It’s up to me to decide whether that impact is positive or negative,” says Staples senior Sami Bautista.
“Of all the activities I do, K2BK is hands down the most rewarding and powerful experience,” adds senior Michaela MacDonald. “It has helped me grow into a much stronger, kinder, more courageous person. Thanks to K2BK, I feel more comfortable being who I am.”
In addition, teachers create their own projects in between sessions. Parent volunteers bring the lessons home to their children.
And a townwide scavenger hunt — in which 3rd graders follow clues to various merchants, and learn how each business is “kind” and “pays it forward” around town and beyond — has involved countless people beyond the schools.
Clearly, Kool To Be Kind has impacted lives, and changed behaviors. Now, if we can just spread the idea that bullying isn’t cool to Westport drivers.
And, ahem, a couple of “06880” commenters…