As Brentwood Elementary’s BKind assembly came to an end late Thursday morning, principal Shelly Hardcastle asked the gathered students to close their eyes and imagine what they could do to spread a little kindness among their classmates.
Dozens of heads lowered and eyes squeezed shut in a show of unity, the sea of matching T-shirts a visual example of the school-wide commitment to kindness.
Thanks to the Parents’ Advisory Committee, every student in the school received a BKind t-shirt that morning, to bring them together and help remind them of the importance of treating each other with respect.
BKind day grew from the school’s Be A Good Friend day, and coincided with Pink Shirt Day, a national stand against bullying started by two Nova Scotia students in 2007 that eventually sparked the United Nations to adopt an international anti-bullying day.
Brentwood’s take on the event is a little different, but no less powerful.
Rather than focusing on how to stamp out bullying, the school put the emphasis on how to encourage positive behaviour.
“It’s about putting a positive spin on it,” said Hardcastle.
“Bullying can be a really misused word in many social learning contexts,” she added. “A five-year-old having a conflict over a toy might say they’re being bullied, but that’s just learning how to get along.”
Instead of the ‘anti’ attitude, Hardcastle and the other teachers talk about fostering a kind approach.
“A lot of it is about being kind. Taking care of ourselves and taking care of each other and our community,” she said. “It’s about helping, rather than hurting, and kids get that.”
Hardcastle was inspired to develop BKind day after talking to a friend and fellow principal in Surrey, and soon had a batch of the black and pink T-shirts made up for the teachers to purchase, but the movement quickly went much further.
“PAC saw them, and they said ‘we think all the kids should have them,’” said Hardcastle.
“What better idea to not only support Be A Good Friend day, but to also send each child home with something,” said Lindsay Tusche, a member of the Parents’ Advisory Committee.
“The kids will wear them again,” she added, and noted that it’s a great way to help remind them of the importance of being kind in their day to day lives.
Tusche, who has a daughter in Grade 5 and a son in Grade 2 at the school, said the kids were excited for the project from the beginning.
“We were going around, trying on different sizes with the kids, and they were asking what colours the shirts were going to be,” she said. “The kids were just buzzing when we told them what was going on.”
An appropriate choice of words, as the shirts feature a bright pink bee.
Anson D’Anjou, a Grade 5 student who spoke at the assembly about his own experiences with practicing kindness, said the school has done a good job with the BKind day.
“They really try and make other people understand kindness,” he said. “It’s good for the other kids to learn about kindness.”
D’Anjou has his own goal when it comes to spreading kindness and goodwill.
“Every day I try and make people laugh,” he said.