CARLSBAD — Nearly 15 years ago two local women set out to change the city.
Instead, they had a global impact when they launched Kids for Peace, the Carlsbad-based nonprofit committed to bringing peace, happiness and gratitude to children across the globe.
And now, Kids for Peace is gearing up for its 10th annual Great Kindness Challenge, one headed for the record books, said co-founder Jill McManigal. Dubbed “Linked by Love” and part of the “Kindness Unites” campaign, Kids for Peace is receiving links of recycled or reused paper to connect into a chain covering 110 miles.
The Great Kindness Challenge runs from Jan. 25 through Jan. 29.
“We always want to take a positive approach,” McManigal said. “We came up with the idea of having kids take action and spread kindness. Instead of focusing on what we don’t want, we focus on what we do want.”
When McManigal and Danielle Gram created the concept for Kids for Peace in 2006, their goal was to focus on local children and showcasing their acts of kindness. In their first year, the nonprofit started in three Carlsbad elementary schools — Jefferson, Hope and Kelly.
The reaction was so overwhelming that by the second year, the organization expanded to more than 260 schools nationwide. Now, Kids for Peace reaches more than 15 million children in 148 chapters across 121 countries.
But 10 years ago, McManigal and her team came up with the Great Kindness Challenge, which promotes a weeklong event featuring a 50-point checklist of acts of kindness. The challenge encourages youngsters to incorporate kindness throughout the week.
However, McManigal said they have also been focused on keeping those acts going all year; along with extending the challenge and acts of kindness to the kids’ parents. The program has become so popular that California and Virginia are certified kindness states promoting the event to all their schools.
“Kindness is a great unifier and something everybody can grab a hold of and is very actionable,” she said. “It’s been beautiful to see how it has grown and given kids opportunities to actually practice kindness and be part of this global movement.
Richard Tubbs, the principal at Pac Rim Elementary School in Carlsbad, said when he manned the position at Hope, the decision to join the challenge was easy. He said the checklist makes for a good starting point each year and is a positive way to motivate the community.
Additionally, the challenge has taken on a life of its own as children will make their own checklists or add on to the one provided by Kids for Peace, Tubbs said.
“The real joy is seeing the students and their families promoting a positive school culture by emphasizing kindness as a community theme that permeates throughout our campus,” he added. “The powerful impact of sharing love, warmth, compassion, and kindness with others leaves a lasting impression that really makes a difference. There’s something very empowering for a student to influence another person by their acts of kindness.”
Note: Kids for Peace’s “Linked by Love” paper chain will be unveiled in the spring, or when it’s safe for gatherings, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kids and adults can send “links” to the nonprofit to be included in the chain. Address and details can be found at thegreatkindnesschallenge.com.