Four former Dutton Elementary students are using their platform as Girl Scouts to inspire younger generations of Wildcats to spread kindness.
Now Caledonia High School freshmen and Senior Girl Scouts, Sadie Grimes, Lily DeWinter, Kloe Kimbrell and Ella Norberg got the idea for their project, A Week of Kindness, from a presentation by be nice., the mental health foundation of West Michigan.
“We wanted to give back to our elementary school,” Sadie said. “It’s where we came from and everyone there is always so nice.”
The Week of Kindness ran the week of Oct. 19, with a different theme and call to action each day.
“Rather than just focus on anti-bullying, we wanted our spirit week to have a positive spin,” Sadie said. “Monday was ‘Time to Wake Up,’ like waking up and choosing to be nicer to people, and the theme was pajama day. Friday was mismatched clothes day, which we lined up with the national Misfit Million Sock March.”
The other days of the spirit week included Time to Speak Up, spreading the word about kindness; Time to Represent, wearing blue to school to support anti-bullying; and Time to Come Together, wearing Caledonia school colors to show school pride.
The week’s first day was a great one, according to Principal Shawn Veitch.
“They really won the students’ hearts over with being able to wear pajamas to school,” Veitch said. “During the day, the students went around putting the homemade #KindnessMatters magnets on the lockers.”
Designed by Grimes, the magnets featured Dutton’s Wildcat mascot and Caledonia’s colors to serve as a tangible reminder of what students learned from the week. Veitch also praised the staff for encouraging the students to acknowledge each day.
“We are definitely blessed at Dutton with awesome teachers who love all kinds and invest in every kid that walks in the hallway,” Veitch said. “Keeping that positive and kind culture takes work and it’s something we strive for everyday.”
Constructing The Week of Kindness
Beginning their project as Cadettes in Troop 4254, the girls developed the Week of Kindness as the sustainability project needed to complete their Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest honor a Cadette can achieve.
“It was fun,” Kloe said. “We mostly brainstormed ways to push kindness, and somewhere along the way we came to the idea of having days of the week.”
After deciding a theme for each day, they incorporated the themes into videos and posters to visually demonstrate kindness in different forms.
For Friday’s video, Ella dressed up in mismatched clothing and the other girls took turns complimenting her unique style and personality.
“It was great, but really hard not to laugh,” Ella said. “It turned the actions into simple demonstrations younger kids could understand.”
Together they filmed seven videos, five for each day of the week, an introduction and a closing video, according to Kloe. The videos were then shown to all of the classes at Dutton during the schoolwide morning meeting. Teachers were then tasked to follow up the videos with a conversation about what the students took away from the video’s message.
These scouts strive to ensure their project and acts of kindness are sustainable.
Troop 4254’s former leader and Sadie’s mother, Kimberly Grimes, explained how the Week of Kindness was a continuation of previous projects for their alma mater.
“We started the troop when they were in first grade at Dutton,” Grimes said. “In 2016, they donated the Buddy Bench to help eliminate loneliness and foster friendships. Today, they continue to sprinkle kindness wherever they go and will continue to carry the memories from this capstone project.”
Veitch also expressed his admiration and gratitude for the students’ commitment to their former elementary school.
“I am so proud of these girls,” Veitch said. “They have been so intentional and truly invested in our school. It’s amazing to have that mindset from such a young age and we’re so thankful they’re working so hard to make a difference for the young kids at Dutton and beyond.”
Kloe emphasized their goal of helping young students be kind to one another and not become bullies.
“You have to start young so kindness becomes a normal thing,” Kloe said. “We want to do our part in creating environments where kids feel safe and not feel like they’re alone.”
After the inaugural Week of Kindness’ success, Veitch is excited to make it an annual event in October, in connection with Anti-Bullying Month and the Misfit Million Sock March.
“Our big takeaway from this week is it’s a choice to be kind,” he said. “There will be tough days but there are two things you control: your attitude and the effort you bring, and kindness fits into all of it.”