High school can be a tough time — with coursework, exams, and extracurriculars all crammed into one short, eight-hour day (and extra take-home work and after-school activities left to boot), it’s a wonder students get any sleep at all. A 2014 study conducted by the University of Phoenix’s School of Education reported that American students alone spent as many as 17 hours on schoolwork per week. In all the noise, it can be near impossible to keep up with any personal projects or goals.
That is, unless you’re some sort of superhero, like Caringbah High School senior Lily Hayman, in New South Wales, Australia. Even with the constant flow of school assignments and graduation stress bogging her down, Lily made room for those peers walking the halls of her school, helping to host a special “Day of Kindness” to lift their spirits and inspire them to do more.
Using a little help from Random Acts Australian Representative and Events Officer Bec Cross, who put together an informational video about some of Random Acts’ loyal Australian supporters, and some assistance from her school, Lily plunged into organizing an afternoon full of fun activities, kindness projects, and delicious snacks — all free of charge to her teachers and peers.
“We used the day to try and make it one big random act of kindness for all the kids at school,” explained Lily afterward. “We had free rides and jumping castles, live music, a Photo Booth, and a heap of food to make the day special, and show [the students] just how easy it is to brighten someones day.”
And if Lily and her peers were impatient to check out the effects of their “Day of Kindness”, they didn’t have to wait long (or even at all, really).
“Immediately, we had kids buying food in bulk and handing it out to anyone who had forgotten money,” she said, “which was so, so, so encouraging, we were jumping around on the spot.”
One of the biggest successes of the day, she added, was the “Warm and Fuzzies” program that event organizers and students had been planning for over a month. Placing out envelopes for each teacher and student, Lily and her peers encouraged their fellow students to write encouraging notes of support to friends and favorite instructors, and to drop them in their respective envelopes as a sweet surprise to cap off their Kindness event.
“We didn’t know how involved the kids would get, and were worried we would be writing out thousands and thousands to make sure everyone got one and felt loved on the day, but we couldn’t believe the response we got,” she said. “Every student and teacher had at least ten messages from around the school, many had a lot more.”
The day of kindness didn’t end with the tolling of the school bells either. The following day, reported Lily, students were still “buzzing” about the kind note initiative, even continuing the trend on their own time.
“I know some kids have started slipping ‘warm and fuzzies’ into their friends bags or lockers anonymously just to see them smile, and I’ve had so many teachers tell me how amazing it was to get messages from their students that reminded them why they became teachers in the first place,” said Lily later. “It was just incredible the amount of kindness the school managed to produce to back such a simple initiative.”
Of course, no act of kindness ever goes unnoticed or un-felt on either side of the equation, as Lily and her classmates can attest.
“Basically, [we’re] riding on a massive high,” she joked. “We’re exhausted and we’ve been running around like headless chickens for a week making sure everything was booked and ready, but we’re so proud of what we’ve achieved, and the attitude we’ve helped bring to the school. Now all we have to do is make sure we keep up the little things and keep the kindness flowing.”
Featured image: Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon/Flickr