Celebrate Kindness This Valentine’s Day

Alternative to Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day at my middle school means cards, candy, balloons and stuffed animals. It also means lots of kids who feel left out. In years past I’ve given each student a card to help offset their feelings of marginalization. Does it help? I don’t know.

This year is different. This year, we’re going to use the day to participate in the “Celebrate Kindness” initiative by planning activities around these great “Celebrate Kindness” cards instead of Valentine’s cards.  It’s free and easy to do.

What is “Celebrate Kindness”?

YouThink celebrate kindness campaignIt’s a campaign sponsored by youTHink, a Los Angeles arts, leadership and community involvement organization for teens.

youThink designed these graphically rich (and easy-to-print) cards and posters for teachers, students and staff to hand out on Valentine’s Day in lieu of the traditional Valentine

The idea is to use the day to make everyone on campus feel more included. This is a year-round campaign that starts on Valentine’s Day, which historically leaves lots of kids out.


What Inspired “Celebrate Kindness”?

Earlier this month, youTHink brought 200 Los Angeles students together to watch the documentary Valentine Road. This hard-hitting film explores the issues surrounding Brandon McInerney’s murder of fellow 8th grader Larry King – in class and in cold blood – because Larry asked Brandon to be his Valentine.

As the film unfolds, issues of race, class, poverty, gender identity, school and domestic violence, as well as the foster care system, unexpectedly come into play.  The film also explores student and teacher culpability in interesting ways.

When the film was over, the youth attending the screening discussed these often taboo subjects. Then they kicked off the “Celebrate Kindness Campaign.” Hundreds of these cards were passed out and this huge group of kids began giving cards to their friends and strangers in the room. I was there and it was an exhilarating feeling to “do” something about Larry’s death by celebrating the kinder parts of ourselves.

How You Can Participate?

Suggestions for Bringing The Campaign To Your SchoolThis is not a coordinated campaign. The materials (posters and cards), are available for free and people are encouraged to freely use them in the way they see fit.

  • At Hollenbeck Middle School in Los Angeles, students are going to have tables at lunch to make signs, pass out kindness cards and play music.
  •  A group of students at Cortines High School (also in LA) plans to give a card to every single student on campus (that’s more than 1,600 students).
  • While less ambitious, I am going to distribute lots of the cards in class and let students have the chance to write notes on the back of them and pass them around.

youTHink ask that you use #celebratekindness to help spread the message throughout social media to a wider audience.

Valentine’s day is a nice time to be nice to each other. So while this campaign is targeted at February 13-14, it’s really an initiative that teachers can use all year long. Will you join me?

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