What if kindness was the only rule? Glasgow’s children embrace the Kindness Movement

by Freya Lucas

May 03, 2019

Glasgow, Scotland’s most populated city, has placed acts of kindness firmly on the agenda of it’s youngest citizens, in a move to make the city the first “Kindness City” in the nation.

 

An initiative known as The Kindness Book was launched in November 2018, and has subsequently found its way into educational sites throughout the city, being translated into a number of languages other than English.

 

Although the book is aimed specifically at children aged seven to twelve, there are a number of core messages which will resonate with the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, with the initiative adaptable for children in the target age group attending outside school hours care (OSHC) programs.

 

In essence, children engaging with the kindness book are asked to write down a moment of kindness with a friend, who they then pass the book on to. The friend then writes down their memory of a moment of kindness with another friend who becomes the next recipient of the book, and so on.

 

The book is the first initiative of the Kindness Movement, established to honour the life of Robert Acker Holt. Mr Holt passed away, aged 94, in 2018. Mr Holt’s two sons, Jason and Stuart, established the movement with the support of business leader, Debra Charles, in honour of their father who fled the Nazi regime as a Jewish refugee, never forgetting the small acts of kindness he was shown during this time of his life.

 

By writing and drawing moments of kindness, and sharing them with one another, the Holt brothers said, the book aims to help children to realise how small acts of kindness are carried throughout their community, leaving a lasting impact on society.

 

Tes reported Glasgow City Council’s education director, Maureen McKenna, as saying Glasgow had an aspiration to be known as a nurturing city, and that the initiative was a wonderful fit in terms of supporting the goal. “As soon as we were approached, it was such an easy decision to make”. Ms McKenna said.

 

The consideration of kindness as a “core skill” was one which Ms McKenna said was an integral part of building resilience in young children, which in turn was an important focus of Glaswegian teachers’ work.

 

She described the kindness book as being beautiful in its simplicity, noting that the speed in which the children took up the books was testament to the power of the idea, which Ms McKenna hopes to cultivate into an online space where stories of kindness can be shared.

 

Mr J Holt said to Tes that the decision by Glasgow educators to bring the books into every primary school classroom demonstrates a vision for making tangible steps to integrating kindness – something “so many others might nod to, but not champion or see through in this way”.

 

“From a sentimental point of view, I can’t help feeling immense pride. I felt like my father was next to me with his hand on my arm, saying how proud he is, making something from his life.” Mr Holt said.

 

The article above has been based on the work of Julia Belgutay, who shared Kindness top of the agenda in Glasgow classrooms via the Tes Global website. You can read Ms Belgutay’s original work here.

 

The Kindness Book can be accessed here.

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