They say one small act of kindness can go a long a way in making someone’s day, and two area organizations are promoting not only the mental health benefits of kindness, but the physical benefits as well.
The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way (GSVUW) has teamed up with Evangelical Community Hospital to bring the 2020 Kindness Campaign to schools, businesses and the Susquehanna Valley community. It is being run in conjunction with February as National Heart Month.
An ad, by GSVUW and the hospital, posted on social media sites such as Facebook, touts “Being kind can ... lower your blood pressure, increase serotonin production and help you live longer.”
According to Seth Joseph, of the GSVUW, some participating organizations include the Lewisburg Children’s Museum, the Lewisburg YMCA at the Miller Center, Degenstein Community Library in Sunbury, and Lewisburg, Southern Columbia, Line Mountain and Midd-West school districts, just to name a few.
Activities are taking place through Friday and everyone can participate in daily challenges, as posted on the GSVUW website:
Monday — Compliment or appreciate someone
Tuesday — Clean up something that isn’t yours
Wednesday — Say hello to someone new
Thursday — Post a positive message on social media
Friday — Wear “Be Kind” apparel and red clothing
Superintendent Dr. Steven Skalka, of the Lewisburg School District, said Lewisburg schools are ready to participate with the challenges. For instance, students at Kelly and Linntown schools are encouraged to wear red (the color of kindness) on Monday; compliment someone on Tuesday; go out of your way to help someone on Wednesday; and sit with someone who is alone on Thursday. The Middle and High School have similar challenges.
“I want to thank our counselors and the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way for their support of this important effort,” Skalka said.
At SUN Area Technical Institute, in New Berlin, students will be selling suicide prevention bracelets to help promote mental health awareness; doing kindness gestures; and recognizing kind heroes, during the week, said Wendy Chalmers, Council of President’s advisor at the school.
“We are hoping our efforts help people remain kind in the future and recognize the health benefits of being kind,” she said, adding that for her the important thing with random acts of kindness is doing it with anonymity. “I feel very strongly when I make donations, or do something nice for someone else, I do so without recognition.”
According to Beth Colonna George, director of student services at Meadowbrook Christian School in Milton, students participated in acts of kindness during National School Choice Week in January.
“We chose on day of the week that teachers handed out Random Act of Kindness cards. If a student experienced an act of kindness, they posted their card on a large board in the main hallway. It was awesome to see the boards fill up throughout the day,” she said.
On Saturday, the Lewisburg Children’s Museum will host a rock painting session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where children are invited to decorate rocks with kind messages on them and place them throughout the community for others to find. Cost is $8 per person and is included with general admission, recommended for children 4 and up.
As part of the 2020 Kindness Campaign, the United Way is sponsoring a social media contest through Feb. 18 where students can win a pair of Apple Airpods and adults can win a pair of Live United Live Music Festival tickets. The contest involves posting a photo or video of themselves or someone they know performing an act of kindness and use the hashtag #bekind2020. More information can be found at www.gsvuw.org/bekind.
“Focusing on youth mental health has been of growing importance at the United Way,” said Stacey Piecuch, director of Community Impact at GSVUW. “We are dedicated to making an impact on youth mental health by encouraging members of the Susquehanna Valley communities to make intentional acts of kindness.”
She expressed that the United Way’s mission is to serve as a catalyst and partner for community efforts to develop solutions and have a positive measurable impact on specific areas of concern, such as behavioral health and addiction, basic needs and poverty, social opportunities for teens and a greater understanding and appreciation for diversity, just to name a few.