When you’re in elementary school, there are few things worse than feeling picked on, not being included, or not having a friend. I know what it feels like to witness the tears of a child who comes home from school with a report of such an experience. It makes a parent feel frustrated and helpless.
The other side of the coin is being the parent of the child who is teasing or excluding other children. My worst fear is that one of my kids will come home from school one day and share with me that they were the ones being unkind or responsible for another child’s tears. I don’t need my kids to be the smartest, the most athletic, or the most popular – but I do want them to be kind humans.
Don’t get me wrong. I am definitely far from being a perfect mom. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like I’m a very good mom, but I do take some comfort in knowing I am raising kind kids. There is nothing that makes my mama’s heart happier than when I witness the kindness of my children.
And it looks like Taylor Henderson from San Antonio, Texas knows a little bit about that. Her 8-year-old daughter, Harper, recently started a Kindness Club at her school.
“As some of you may have seen last week, Harper randomly decided to start a school-wide ‘Kindness Club Recess Patrol,’” wrote Henderson in an October 26th Facebook status update.
Henderson went on to explain that the goals of the Kindness Club Recess Patrol were to make sure everyone has a friend and just generally promote kindness.
“This was all out of left field,” she continued, “but since kindness is something we prioritize in our family, we told her to run with it and see what happens.”
Harper, who is in the 3rd grade, created flyers and sign-up sheets, bought pencils to hand out, and even met with the principal to explain her program and ask permission to hang her materials around campus. The principal agreed and by the end of the day, she came home with 45 sign-ups.
I know what you’re thinking. This girl is going places.
“Some [of the sign-ups were] from FOURTH-GRADERS Y’ALL,” continued Henderson, citing that this was a HUGE deal for a lowly 3rd-grader.
Harper’s school has a “Buddy Bench” on their playground, where a child who needs a friend or someone to play with can go sit during recess. The Buddy Bench can serve as a reminder to be inclusive. One of the roles of Harper’s Kindness Club is to actively monitor the Buddy Bench, to make sure no one is waiting and feeling not included for too long.
No child likes that feeling of not belonging, but in a city like San Antonio, this initiative is doubly important. Dubbed as “Military City U.S.A.,” San Antonio is home to several military bases and has a large, transient military population. Area schools are likely to have a larger-than-average concentration of new kids that are looking to make friends and to belong.
Harper had this to say about the why behind creating the Kindness Club: “I created the Kindness Club to make sure everyone has a friend and someone to play with, so no one will feel left out. The Kindness Club is basically about doing nice things and stopping people from being mean if you see them acting that way.”
Henderson’s Facebook status went on, “Sorry if this is a humblebrag post, but my mama heart is bursting. We worry so much about our kids, and we shouldn’t because they are capable of greatness and they are capable of achieving it without us.”
She added, “My contributions to this movement have been scanning and printing some flyers. That’s it. This is all her and she’s 1,000 times more amazing than I am.”
I kind of doubt that last sentence. Although we can all agree that Miss Harper is an amazing little human, most likely this is a case of the apple not falling far from the tree.
And also? Brag away, mama.
“I’m obviously super proud of her,” said Taylor Henderson in an interview with Babble. “Practicing kindness is paramount to our family, and I’m relieved to know that all this time, she’s been listening to what my husband and I have striven to teach her. Harper is wise beyond her 8 years and truly understands that you don’t change the world by moving mountains overnight; you start by improving your corner of it. That’s exactly what she’s doing and I’m grateful that she embraces responsibility to be the good in the world.”
Harper also said, “If everyone out there pledged to do one kind thing every day, think of how the world would change. All the good deeds would multiply, and in a few years, good would win over bad.”
I know. She’s incredible, right?
We’re all grateful to people like you, Harper. I could quote that song about how “I believe that children are our future” and not feel one bit cheesy about it.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel a little bit more reassured about the next generation knowing that people like Harper Henderson are out there.