Did you know you can see the crime rate in your neighborhood?
If you go online to Trulia, a home buying website, you can click a little button that says “Crime.” The map is light blue in areas where there are few reported problems and dark blue where there are more crimes.
What if we could see the kindness of an area in the same way? Wouldn’t it be fun to see how it spreads?
It just might be possible thanks to yard signs that have popped up in the southern part of our nation and seem to be spreading. A woman who works at a school in Tennessee alerted me to this movement.
“My name is Amy Sturm and I’m counselor at Immaculate Conception School in Clarksville, Tenn. This year, our school system decided to start a kindness initiative in all of our schools.
"Throughout the school year, our students have been participating in kindness missions by making posters and doing activities. We decided that we needed to expand our kindness out into the community, so we created ‘Be Kind’ yard signs. We sell the signs for $10 and all the donations are given to five local community social service agencies. It’s been a really great way for our kids to see the kindness spread throughout the community.”
The idea for the ‘Be Kind’ signs actually came over Christmas break when one of the school’s staff members was visiting friends near Owensboro, Ky. She saw a ‘Be Kind’ yard sign and immediately thought of her school’s kindness campaign.
She began searching for the source of the signs and traced it back to a local church. That’s where she learned the church leaders actually got the idea from a town in Virginia.
Regardless of where it started, the signs are continuing to spread. The employee brought a sign back to Tennessee where the students and co-workers fell in love with the idea. As an added act of kindness, instead of just selling the signs as a school fundraiser, they decided to teach the kids about giving back to the community by donating the money to Habitat for Humanity, Urban Ministries’ Safe Place, The Food Initiative, SAFE-Soldiers and Families Embraced and Tender Paws Animal Therapy.
The campaign is intended to help students bring the focus back to being kind to themselves and to others. School leaders say the efforts within their buildings have been heartwarming, but the most dramatic effect has been watching as the students see that kindness continues beyond the walls of their school and their homes.
Teachers say the kids are learning that kindness can and should be spread throughout a community and ultimately the world.
Amy says it’s fun to drive down the street and see signs in many of the yards. She knows her town’s kindness statistics aren’t going to show up on Trulia or any other website, but that doesn’t decrease the joy she feels at seeing kindness become contagious to an entire community.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.