If you live in or around Pittsburgh, chances are you have seen the hashtag #BeTheKindKid. It’s all over Twitter, t-shirts and totebags, and it has certainly made an impact at my schools. The movement started three years ago in the Avonworth School District, where STEAM Teacher Mrs. Maureen Frew started an after-school club for girls interested in entrepreneurship. The group of ladies started off by making small, inexpensive games and holiday items to sell to parents and staff members. One day, two young ladies approached Mrs. Frew wondering if there could be a business just about being kind. They formed the JAM Corporation, #BeTheKindKids shirts were born, and the kindness movement surrounding them started. Since then, #BeTheKindKids has been trademarked, and there are over 31,000 shirts being worn all over the world. The two young ladies who started it all with Mrs. Frew are now seasoned business women at the ripe old age of nine! The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, Pittsburgh Kindness Initiative, and ReMake Learning are just a few organizations who support the kindness and maker-business initiatives.
The movement has spread to schools across Pennsylvania, in other states and even other countries. Schools now celebrate “Kind Kid Wednesday”, when staff and students are encouraged to wear #BeTheKindKid shirts (which were made in-house in our Maker Space until the # was trademarked). The JAM Corporation uses any proceeds to provide interested schools with a $200.00 grant to fund a student-lead business. Miss Stephanie Sciulli at Greenock Elementary was the first to receive the grant. JAM2 is run through the Kindness Club which is offered to second graders at Greenock. Last year the club sponsored a Kindness Night, which was attended by over 100 local residents and family members. Mrs. Larissa Leuenberger has picked up the charge, and will be working with Mt.Vernon students to create a new JAM there. Staff members and administrators in every school have noted an increase in the levels of kindness demonstrated by students and staff, especially on Wednesdays.