The Kindness Challenge

Girl working on kindness journal

Seventh-grader Malaya Jones ’28 working on her Kindness Journal during Advisory Group.

Be kind to others. Sounds easy, right. Smile at a passerby. Hold the door open for a colleague. But what about practicing kindness on a deeper level? Being kind when faced with aggression or disrespect. Being kind to an adversary. That takes hard work and that’s the job facing students in the Oak Knoll Upper School this month as they take on the Kindness Challenge.

Students embarked on this month-long project in their advisory groups after watching this video featuring Character Strong Co-founder, Houston Kraft. In it, he says, “What if we talked about kindness in a way that honored how hard it is? What if we taught kindness in a way that respected how challenging and messy and worthwhile it really is? The action of kindness itself is the byproduct of a whole lot of social and emotional skills. I believe that true kindness is effective only when I’m equipped with the tools to engage with myself and others in uncomfortable and thoughtful and intentional ways.”

Throughout the month, students will be keeping daily kindness journals. Each day, they will be challenged to perform an intentional act of kindness such as contacting a relative, writing to a sibling, and creating poems or artwork. Each day, they will also note ways in which they deserve kindness themselves, and what they are grateful for.

“Kindness is what allows us to connect with each other and build relationships,” said Upper School Division Head Kate McGroarty. “Acts of kindness also increase our feelings of well-being. January is a month known for making resolutions. My resolution is to have 2023 be the year known for kindness. I can only imagine the incredible and positive impact we could have as an Oak Knoll community if we all committed to this being the year of kindness.”

Throughout the month, students will exercise vulnerability, grit, resilience, and forgiveness in their daily kindness challenges. They will celebrate the complexity of the act and honor the difficulty of putting kindness into practice in a truly meaningful way.

“Humans have a lot of complex emotions and kindness isn’t always easy,” concluded Winifred Ohene-Ologo ’28 in a recent seventh-grade advisory group. “It’s hard to do, but doing it helps the world be a better place.”