The discussion presented to Bullitt Lick Middle School Teacher Tonie Weddle and her Kindness Crew was different than the one Julie Kelly (www.julieckelly.com) gave at the elementary school level.
When visiting Nichols, Shepherdsville and Roby Elementary Schools, Kelly of ThinkKindness.org interacted with fun and games. She played some trivia and showed a video that were both appealing and thought-provoking.
Her tone was more serious with middle school students, including a personal note about overcoming obstacles.
Pointing to the remains of her wrecked company car, Kelly informed students she did not allow almost getting killed by a drunk driver define her life.
“My coworkers and I were out celebrating and I was the designated driver,” Kelly said. “Little did I know how much my life would change in an instant.”
Although no one was killed in the crash, life is different.
Eight months of rehab and recovery were accompanied by Kelly’s determination to turn a near tragedy into something positive. This is the main message she gave students. Never allow the challenges of your life to define you, instead be proactive and turn your life around.
The native of Australia became a biologist and applied and was accepted at the California Institute of Technology before becoming a speaker with ThinkKindness. She now gives hundreds of presentations annually at schools around the country.
Everywhere she speaks, Kelly challenges students and staff to be kind in their words and deeds.
“Think before you speak, do or post anything online,” she said. “Be encouraging to others. Compliment someone on their abilities and skills. This should be your daily mindset for the rest of your lives.”
Wearing a white T-Shirt with the words Love Wins, Kelly repeated the Golden Rule at each of her talks…Treat Others as You Wish to be Treated. Making the point that kindness is a simple concept, but needs to be practiced daily.
“Turn to your teacher and let them know they are the greatest in the world,” Kelly cited. “Tell your friends how special their friendship is to you. Let your school bus driver know you are thankful for their safe driving. When you get home, help your parents with dinner, take out the trash, and help your uncle wash the car on the weekend or volunteer to shovel snow. If you like playing video games, offer to share a controller with a sibling.”
Specifically, she challenged schools to compete for the title of Kindest School in America and tasked them with documenting 5,000 acts of kindness by Feb. 15.
A bit more elaborate is the sneaker challenge.
Kelly and her ThinkKindness group have visited African villages where students are not allowed to attend school barefoot.
At each school, she asks students to donate gently worn sneakers, tennis shoes or running shoes that will be transported to Africa.
She urged students these tennis shoes do not need to be brand new.
“Please understand that I do not want you to go home and tell your parents we need to go out a buy a new pair of sneakers,” Kelly said. “We are looking for an old, gently used pair of sneakers that are lying around your house, that you may have outgrown, that you don’t wear anymore. This simple act of kindness will make a world of difference for a child in Africa.”
During her stop at Nichols Elementary, Kelly was astonished when a student gave a pair of tennis shoes to her teacher during the assembly.
“This has honestly never happened before,” she smiled. “I believe in the kindness and greatness of the students, teachers, staff and parents of Bullitt County.”