At the beginning of the 2013-’14 school year Su Chafin, psychotherapist at Milford High School (MSD) Wellness Center, assisted students in creating the Students for a Million Acts of Kindness (SMAK) campaign. An effort that started as a way to proactively prevent bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month, the concept quickly grew into a movement at MHS as students took the initiative to make it a priority during the school day. Chafin believes that this program has changed the way in which teachers and students affect their surroundings by proactive encouragement.
At the end of the year, the students surpassed their goal of reaching one million acts of kindness, documenting a total of 1, 074,571 acts in just ten months. Gaining attention throughout the entire school district, 170 Milford students were named official SMAK ambassadors as they encouraging acts of kindness across six schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
“It was an incredible, amazing experience and I am so proud of the kids,” commented Chafin. “I am also very grateful to have been at the center of seeing so much kindness between our students and in our schools.”
At the end of school last year ,SMAK advisors Ms. Chafin and Ms. Morgan received calls, letters and emails from students asking them to continue the program into this year. On Wednesday, September 10, 2014 SMAK ambassadors introduced the kindness campaign once again during school lunches as they provided details on the new challenges associated with this year’s initiative.
Last year students were challenged to document one million acts of kindness and if that goal was made, teachers and school staff promised to perform unusual acts such as shaving their head or sleeping on the roof of the school for a night. This year’s program will see more competition between teachers and students as they go head-to-head to see which group can perform and document more acts of kindness. This new initiative, called SSKD, Students v. Staff Kindness Dare, has already started and authors of kind acts have begun logging them online at https://sites.google.com/site/mhswellness/.
“In the spirit of SMAK, the new SSKD allows students to take a leadership role as they challenge teachers,” said Chafin. “The hope is that it encourages kids to challenge others and expand that challenge among other groups.”
Ms. Chafin believes that these acts of kindness will continue to grow and expand to the communities in which the students live. By using this proactive approach she hopes that future generations will focus on the good happening around them.
“Inherently, it has character building qualities and builds equity among each other so they begin to see that when you extend compassion to others it creates an environment of understanding,” commented Chafin. “So when they experience people who are different in and outside of school, they do not see that as challenging but celebrate their differences.”
The Students for a Million Acts of Kindness program is still searching for new ideas to enhance the project as individuals are urged to call the MSD Wellness Center to help support the program. Students and teachers can start or continue documenting their daily kind acts by entering them on the district website at www.milfordschooldistrict.org. Simply click Kindness Project, click SMAK Tally and enter.