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Kids for Peace
From left are Meg Jansen, peace pledge program director, Asia Moore, program director, and Kids for Peace co-founder Jill McManigal created “Kindness Unites” as the theme for this year’s challenge. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Kids for Peace gears up for 10th annual ‘Great Kindness Challenge’

CARLSBAD — Kindness will be in the spotlight come Jan. 25 as Kids for Peace celebrates its 10th annual Great Kindness Challenge.

It is a weeklong event pushing kindness to children and adults alike, and this year it couldn’t come at a more opportune time, said Kids for Peace co-founder Jill McManigal. With the pandemic and election, she said being able to focus on the event from Jan. 25-29, which is dubbed “Kindness Unites.”

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions with schools across the county, and world, McManigal said this year’s recruiting efforts have exploded as more than 16 million kids will participate. And this year the nonprofit will construct a 110-mile Kindness Unites paper chain linked by notes of kindness.

Also, the Carlsbad Art Wall, on the east wall of Señor Grubby’s, was painted in dedication to Kids for Peace and the challenge.

“As kids are doing these acts of kindness, they can rewire their brain so that kindness becomes a habit,” McManigal said.

Meg Jansen, the peace pledge program director, said the challenges from the pandemic forced Kids for Peace to adjust its tactics and marketing in various ways. Like most, they went virtual with their efforts and also made their programming simpler to help take off any additional responsibilities from teachers who were stretched thin.

Jansen said because volunteers are not allowed on campuses, especially in California, creativity is important to continue the mission.

The Great Kindness Challenge, meanwhile, gives kids a 50-point checklist to perform throughout the week, although the nonprofit has seen growth in more customizable lists from kids and parents to include other kind acts.

Asia Moore, the program director, said the added challenges of the pandemic has made it tougher for educators and schools, but the Great Kindness Challenge will also help to redirect those children’s energy into positive acts in hopes of giving them an avenue to overcome the social and emotional stress from the past 10 months.

“That is a true and real concern that will continue,” Moore said. “They are, in a way, looking for tools and resources to boost their morale and give them hope and positivity.”

As for the paper chain, McManigal said schools can submit various lengths, which include one-quarter mile, one-half of a mile or one mile. The nonprofit is also accepting individual notes, but will not unveil the chain until gatherings are allowed.

To cap the event, McManigal and others are also forming a caravan navigating through the streets of Carlsbad at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 29.

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