RUMSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Kindness Week kicked off in two New Jersey towns Monday, aiming to teach children the importance of being good to one another through a special challenge.
“Kindness means to help people and don’t be mean to anyone,” said Trey Summers, a third grader at Sickles Elementary School.
“Being respectful so if someone doesn’t have someone to play with–play with them,” said third grader Addison Donoghue.
“Kindness” can mean something different to everyone.
“Kindness is respecting everybody just the way you’re treated,” said third grader Harlow James.
“Helping someone or listening and being respectful,” said third grader Simone Zwas.
No matter the definition, it’s a defining trait parents want to see in their children.
That’s why students as young as 3 years old are concentrating on kindness this week in three Rumson and Fair Haven school districts. They’re also being tasked with performing 5,000 acts of kindness in just 15 days.
It’s all part of Rumson-Fair Haven Kindness Week. Organizer and parent Jon Carras says teaching kids how to behave starts not only at home, but also at school.
“This is a vital, vital thing that we’re trying to teach children, teach each other and we just hope it leads to us all being better to each other,” said Carras.
Students at Sickles Elementary School had an assembly Monday to kick the challenge off, many of them already brainstorming their acts of kindness.
“I hold doors for people sometimes, and I smile at people in the hallways,” Simone said.
“I’m saying kind things to people and leaving kind notes all over the school,” said third grader Celia Denahan.
Kindness Week’s reach stretches beyond these elementary school doors.
“The whole community is involved in this kindness, trying to promote children to start young with being kind to each other,” said Nicholas Harary.
Harary co-owns Nicholas Creamery in Fair Haven. “Kindness Counts” posters can be seen on the creamery’s windows along with hand-written acts of kindness strung along the walls inside.
Posters printed and colored by children can be seen in almost every storefront lining the street.
Next door in Rumson, another business owner says putting posters up on the front windows can remind people of all ages to spread kindness.
“If you can start them off right, you have a much better chance of keeping them on the right path,” said Le Papillon owner Mary Louise Van Der Wilden.
Teachers are holding students accountable by having them log all of their acts of kindness.
Though students are only tasked with performing acts of kindness for the next two weeks, business owners and educators hope this is a lesson they carry with them forever.