Why we need to help children share stories of kindness

A year ago, Tes reported on the launch of the Kindness Movement, which has now inspired thousands of children

Jason Holt

Wellbeing and behaviour: How to spread kindness in your primary school classroom

One year after we launched the Kindness Book, a free resource for primary school children, which enables the sharing of stories of kindness, more than 100,000 acts of kindness have been captured.

We believe that kindness is the first step in ensuring that humanity thrives. And this all started in memory of my dad.

They say that charity starts at home – and it was home where my brother Stuart and I were taught about the power of kindness in the most extreme circumstances. Our father was a victim of Nazi cruelty, but experienced kindness from Austrians, who defied the regime to do so. These acts would shape the man he became.

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Small acts of kindness

Dad fled the Nazis as a Jewish refugee, aged 16, and said he never forgot the small acts of kindness shown to him during this time.

Some 80 years later, this week marked a year since the launch of the Kindness Movement. Sparked by dad’s story, and created to honour his life after he passed away aged 94, the movement was founded by my brother, Stuart Acker Holt, and me. It is chaired by a close friend, business leader Debra Charles.

The Kindness Movement encourages children to consider and share small acts of kindness, and for them to be discussed and celebrated in schools and homes. It has already affected more than 100,000 children around the world.

If one person’s story can have such an impact, then the possibilities are endless for what we can do with 100,000.

Example of a kindness book story

Example of a kindness book story

The book has been translated from English into German, Dutch, French, Italian and Spanish, with thousands of copies distributed to schools in 41 countries. The response from teachers has been amazing. It’s great to see how such a simple idea can inspire the enthusiasm of children around the world, no matter their background

Our future plans for the Kindness Movement include the distribution of thousands more books across the world. The ultimate goal is to collate over a million stories of kindness, which will become an exhibition in the future.

My film-maker brother, Stuart, has created some short and powerful movies, which will help us to spread the word further. These launch in time for World Kindness Day today.

The word "future" is crucial to our mission. Human qualities, such as kindness and empathy, will be more important as we head towards an increasingly perilous future.

The provocative term "kindness" is important, because it’s not soft and fluffy: it is about thoughtful action. It’s embracing softer skills, such as finely tuned social and emotional skills. If we enable children to consciously recognise that giving and receiving kindness helps both the giver and receiver to feel valued, we stand a greater chance of ensuring that advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are developed with the future of humanity at their heart.

After all, the only thing any of us wants is to feel valued. It is what dad felt in those isolated moments 80 years ago. It is what kindness can do for us all.

If dad were here today, he wouldn't believe what his story has led to.

Jason Holt founded the Kindness Movement with his brother Stuart. Start collecting stories of kindness around you today and help children do the same. Go to thekindnessbook.com

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