World Kindness Day

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Image from Inspire Kindness

Elizabeth Gillespie, Staff Reporter

World Kindness Day is an unofficial international holiday that can be traced back to 1997. It takes place annually on November 13, and it will continue this year on the same day. The purpose of this day is to “highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us.”

A coalition of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from countries around the world met at a convention in Tokyo, Japan to establish the World Kindness Movement in 1997. However, the movement was not registered as an official NGO until more recently in 2019. Representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia are amongst the many that attended the event with the common goal of spreading kindness throughout society. Later, in 1998, World Kindness Day became an unofficial holiday as part of the World Kindness Movement.

Although it is an unofficial holiday unrecognized by the United Nations, several different countries around the world observe it. Some of these countries include the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, India, and the United Arab Emirates.

Schools across the world have World Kindness Day on their calendars, and many teachers incorporate the day into their curriculum, especially elementary school teachers. Many education-based websites sponsor World Kindness Day by hosting virtual seminars, creating pamphlets and other handouts, and curriculum that includes kindness-oriented activities for teachers. One example of this is the website 52 Lives: School of Kindness. This website offers educational activities in the fields of science and the humanities, as well as kindness workshops.

Shawnee State University celebrated World Kindness Day a little early this year. On November 10th, students received an email asking them to participate in random acts of kindness throughout the day in recognition of the unofficial holiday. In addition, the university held an event with over 20 participating campus offices, campus clubs, and community organizations. The Women’s Gender and Equity Center partnered with the Student Government Association to plan and host the event.

The participants set up tables on the Student Resource Hub (Annex) lawn. Each table had its own act of kindness or gift for students who attended the event. Portsmouth Nutrition was one of the local businesses or community organizations to set up a table at the event. Delight Ministries, a student organization, offered a prayer request jar and had “positivity post-its” for students to write on and post throughout campus.

There was a chalk walk at the event for attendants to write a positive message on the sidewalk, and t a negativity balloon release. Participants could write down something that was weighing on them on a helium balloon and then release it from their lives. In addition to these activities, the hosts of the event, and those that set up tables, provided candy, cupcakes, and cookies.

Even if you did not attend the event on campus, you can still be part of the “World Kindness Movement” by performing an act of kindness or positivity. You could also tell a friend or family member how much you appreciate them, or you could write an encouraging note to yourself. Remember that this day is about being kind to yourself as much as it is about being kind to others. According to the United States’ version of the calendar, some people even celebrate this day by wearing a cardigan in honor of Mr. Rogers, one of the American symbols of kindness.

This day allows us to reflect on kindness as a unifying human principle, but it also calls those who it reaches to make kindness part of their daily lives. As Mr. Roger once said, “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”