BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Students at General John Striker Middle School were named the “National Middle School Kindness Challenge Champion” on Thursday, a distinction honoring their efforts to improve school climate and make school a safe and supportive place.

As part of the challenge, the students were part of four weeks of activities and lessons that generated dialogue around the “importance of demonstrating kindness in school and in life.”

Students created their own kindness patches during homeroom to highlight kindness acts they witnessed throughout their school day, creating a quilt from these patches and making a “kindness tree” with positive letters and messages to one another.

“The most powerful part is the leadership from our teachers and students,” said Principal Laurie Phillips Friend. “The kindness challenge went right along with the work we’re doing this year on trauma-informed instruction. Not only did most educators sign up to teach a kindness lesson, but the challenge also gave students a purpose—even kids you would not expect to participate,” she continued.

The program is part of “Stand for the Children”, a national non-profit education advocacy organization.

“It’s becoming more and more apparent that we need to teach children to manage their emotions and actions and to regularly demonstrate kindness in their day to day lives,” said Jonah Edelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Stand for Children. “General John Striker Middle School students demonstrated that young people are hungry for kindness-centered activities and that they genuinely want to learn in an environment where respect, caring and support are common-place. We honor their efforts and invite schools nationwide to join this movement.”

During the celebration Thursday students received t-shirts and a large check in the amount of $5,000 in Donors Choose credit to be used toward the purchase of materials to continue fostering kindness in their school environment.

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