Cranbury’s Kindness Club spreads joy through schools

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Acts of kindness are being celebrated at The Cranbury School by a club, but not just any club, the Kindness Club.

The club began in 2012 and is a full year service-learning club open to all fifth to eighth grade students.

According to club advisors Nichole Ball and Laura Burke, the primary goal of the club is to teach kindness, compassion, empathy and generosity through projects created by student members.

“We really work on kindness all year long. Our recent Kindness Challenge is one of the aspects of what the club is doing to foster kindness,” Burke said.

Recently, the club spearheaded a Kindness Challenge from Jan. 30- Feb. 5. The week involved the entire student body of approximately 500 students at the Cranbury School from Pre-K to eighth grade, who were challenged to do acts of kindness around the school.

Some of those acts of kindness included smiling at 25 people, complimenting five people, carrying a friend’s book, saying good morning to 25 people and making a friendship gift for someone new to them.

Ball has been a teacher advisor to the club for four years and Burke has been one for two years.

“This is a unique and very important club to our school,” Principal Susan Genco said. “It was started by middle school students. I think for us this club presents a culture of care that we try to create throughout the building. The students are really in the driver seat of the learning and activities that go on. So random acts of kindness are just one part. It helps to create positive energy for students and staff.”

Ball said the Kindness Challenge and many other aspects of the club are student led.

“The students really like to do this,” she said. “They get really excited and proud of themselves. The challenge and this club are great for student leadership and confidence. We want them to learn how important it is to help others and speak out.”

There are about 30 active members of the club.

“The club is an open enrollment concept. The number of students participating has really grown this year. The students come during their lunch and recess to be a part of the club once a week,” Ball said. “The students are very dedicated to this.”

Last year the club and school participated in World Kindness Day.

“Students colored posters and put them up on the wall throughout the school. The students created signs where you can tear off a kindness quote or thought,” Burke said.

The students also compiled songs about kindness, friendship and unity. Teachers were encouraged to play a little of the playlist during the day.

There is also a capstone project the students in the club choose each year for a charity. For 2019 the charity the club chose is the Childhood Leukemia Foundation.

The students and parents do the capstone through an event called ‘Cranbury Café for a Cause’.

“Students and adults with talents of any kind can show their talents to the community in a café style atmosphere,” Genco said. “We also invite student artists to create art of their choice and we have a silent auction. All the money raised from the auction and refreshments, as well as charging admission at the door go to the charity of choice.”

Genco, Burke and Ball said the club is a school-wide approach to health and wellness, with a key goal of make others feel better.

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