By Logan B. Anderson
MILFORD — “You have to be careful what you say to a teenager. I’ve learned that if you are going to talk about integrity, you better have some,” said Milford High School Wellness Center Counselor Su Chafin.
What she said to a group of Milford High School students spawned a movement.
“We were just in a meeting one day and I said, ‘If you guys do a million acts of kindness I will shave my head.’ That is kind of what happened. Now here we are with 10,000 acts of kindness,” Ms. Chafin said.
The off the cuff remark created a crusade that students have named, S.M.A.K, Students for a Million Acts of Kindness.
The effort official launched on Oct. 15, a month later the effort has tallied 10,000 acts of kindness.
Officials have been tracking the acts online. There are four ways to enter an act of kindness to be counted:
“A lot of those are individual acts of kindness with kids or staff or parents. A lot of them are from groups or clubs that have done things,” said Ms. Chafin. “The FFA did a beach cleanup and counted the kids and the hours they did that. There are a lot of canned food drives going on right now, every kid that brings in a canned food item is an act of kindness. The honor society has 65 kids that brought in 10 cans each.
“A lot of the acts of kindness are things that kids have already been doing and maybe have been doing for a long time,” added Ms. Chafin. “I just wanted to focus on them, focus on the positive. Helping them with what they were already doing and helping them grow with other things.”
The project so far has had a large impact. Beyond spreading to other schools in the district and enlisting acts of kindness from their pupils, SMAK has seemed to brighten the students and turned the culture kinder.
“It brings a new atmosphere to the school. It makes us feel like we are changing the school in a better way and inspiring others to be nice,” said Milford High School student Tara Holstein.
Classmate Chelsea Fitzgerald agrees.
“I feel like there is a definite change in the atmosphere. A lot of people seem to want to do more now they have things to motivate them,” she said.
Student Hannah Knechel said some of the acts have included simply thanking the school’s janitorial staff, “they don’t get enough appreciation.”
Deja Neal said she appreciates the project because she does kind things all of the time. The students are working on a performance piece about the project and Deja is writing a rap for it.
Ms. Chafin said the project has made an impact on her too.
“I find myself kinder, a little gentler, a little softer. Even throughout my day when I am a little grumpy. There were things that got on my nerves about my job before, but I am feeling myself reciprocally adapting to their movement. It works back and forth,” she said.
She has seen such a difference in the students she serves she affectionately calls them Generation K.
When asked if she was worried about her hair, Ms. Chafin smiled and shrugged and said, “It is only hair.”
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