Kids learn life lessons in kindness

With giggles and games came examples of fair play, respect and value – and lessons for a lifetime.

Aidan McKeefrey and Josh Witte enjoy a quick game of rock-paper-scissors during mix and mingle time as the March 20 Kindness Retreat gets underway at Andover Elementary School. Photos by Sue Austreng

Aidan McKeefrey and Josh Witte enjoy a quick game of rock-paper-scissors during mix and mingle time as the March 20 Kindness Retreat gets underway at Andover Elementary School. Photos by Sue Austreng

During a March 19 and 20 Youth Frontiers Kindness Retreat, Andover Elementary School fourth-graders learned how they can create a community in which everyone is treated with kindness every day.

“Our mission is to change the way students treat each other in every hallway, lunch line and classroom of every school in America,” said Youth Frontiers founder and CEO Joe Cavanaugh. “We are not succeeding as a society if our children receive an ‘A’ in Math … and an ‘F’ in life.”

Educators seem to agree and Andover elementary social worker Stephanie Ochocki said, “This is such a positive and impactful event for me to coordinate … many great life lessons.”

During the Kindness Retreat at Andover, kids learned how important sharing kindness at a young age can be, and experienced how their own actions can make a difference to end bullying in their school.

Lots of goofy games were followed by small group discussion and the students discovered the power of positive messages, the value of working together and how easy and effective it is to share good words with each other.

About Youth Frontiers

For more than 25 years, Youth Frontiers’ has facilitated retreats to teach students how to incorporate the values of kindness, courage, respect and integrity into their personal and school lives.

The Twin Cities-based organization aims to strengthen core values, confront negative behaviors and enable students to recognize the consequences of their actions.

Last school year, the nationally renowned non-profit held more than 700 retreats for more than 110,000 students and educators. Since its inception in 1987, Youth Frontiers has reached more than 1.3 million students, according to statistics released by the organization.

Bullying remains a key issue and can have serious negative consequences for students not just while they’re in school, but also throughout their lives, said Cavanaugh.

“For more than two decades, I’ve been listening to kids talk about physically threatening and emotionally scarring experiences at the hands of bullies,” says Cavanaugh. “At the same time, I have witnessed how strongly our youth respond to positive messages. I know from Youth Frontiers’ own quantitative assessments that positive messages create a catalyst for change in our schools. We must continue to work together to implement an important dialogue, bring preventative measures and place issues of bullying and character education at the top of our priority list.”

To learn more about Youth Frontiers and its retreats visit YouthFrontiers.org or contact Ali Sipkins at 952-922-0222 or asipkins@youthfrontiers.org.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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