Creating a culture of kindness: Preschoolers part of worldwide effort to construct 100-mile paperchain

  • Keiki from Kona Hongwanji Preschool recently participated in “The Kindness Challenge”. Courtesy Photo

  • Keiki from Kona Hongwanji Preschool wave signs for the “Kindness Challenge” week. Courtesy photo

  • Keiki from Kona Hongwanji Preschool wave signs for the "Kindness Challenge" week. Courtesy photo

  • Keiki from Kona Hongwanji Preschool wave signs for the "Kindness Challenge" week. Courtesy photo

  • Kona Hongwanji Preschool made and delivered bouquets to local businesses as part of "Kindness Week" . Courtesy Photo

  • Keiki from Kona Hongwanji Preschool wave signs for the “Kindness Challenge” week. Courtesy photo

A Kealakekua preschool is doing its small part to complete a 100-mile “Kindness Paperchain” made by children around the world.

Kona Hongwanji Preschool participated in The Great Kindness Challenge, a worldwide movement sponsored by Kids for Peace, a nonprofit created in 2006 by a California school teacher to spread cultural kindness. The challenge happens annually during the last week of January.

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“They are trying to set a new Guinness World Record by creating a paper chain over 100 miles long,” said school director Leanne Abe. “Schools can sign up for 1/4-, 1/2-or 1-mile chains. All of the links are decorated with drawings or words of kindness and it has become a family project.”

The preschool’s goal is to do a quarter mile, which is 5,280 links. Because of shipping, they are sending the links flat.

“Staff is helping as well. We are cutting all of the links per specification, between 11 and 18 inches long and 1.5 inches wide,” she said.

Abe said the organization provides an extensive tool kit geared for schools from pre-K to 12.

“Kindness, respect and manners emphasized all throughout the year,” she said. “Doing this in the middle of the school year reinforces the message. We are doing our best to create a culture of kindness here.”

The 32 keiki at the school were given an “Acts of Kindness” checklist to complete throughout the week. Among the acts were safely inviting a new friend to play, waving at 25 people, making a wish for a child in another country, telling a joke and making someone laugh, complimenting five people, decorating five hearts and leaving them for a friend, entertaining someone with a happy dance, saying good morning to 10 people, helping someone in need and thanking someone who has helped you.

Each day of the week, a different act of kindness was highlighted.

“This year, we decided to start the week with kindness begins with me/self care. Teachers talked to the kids that this is where it begins. Meditate, take a few moments for yourself,” Abe explained. “Sometimes it’s doing things you love to do. Teaching the kids importance of me time and taking care of themselves so they can take care of others.”

Day two was kindness in the family. They did a photo booth for the keiki and sent the photos to the parents so they could share with family and friends. The photos were digital framed in a heart with the caption “a smile is the universal language of kindness.”

Abe said kindness in the community is one of the kids favorite because it involves sign waving on the side of the road in front of the school.

“We had signs that said kindness matters and honk for kindness, all different signs. The cars wave and honk at us, which the kids love. It validates them. They get so excited,” she said.

Next was kindness to businesses. Parents donated flowers, fauna and vases, and they put together floral arrangements.

For the last day, kindness worldwide, the school decided to participate in the “Kindness Unite Paperchain,” which would last until the end of February.

The kids worked on it in school and worked on at home.

They decided to use brown paper bags and cereal boxes because they wanted the links to be study enough but not so thick that they couldn’t cut it. Abe encouraged anyone who would like to donate brown paper bags to drop them off at the school.

“We would like to involve other schools as well,” Abe said.

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Interested educators can still sign up for it at kidsforpeaceglobal.org/linkedbylove/

Links need to be received by Feb. 28. After the chain is officially measured for the world record the organization will distribute sections to hospitals, senior centers and more to “memorialize and serve as a beautiful reminder that love and kindness connect us all.”

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