By the end of the week, banners promoting the Kindness Campaign will be hanging in libraries and Jewel stores in Elburn and Sugar Grove. And organizers are expecting to continue to spread the word at this weekend’s Elburn Days festival, with a big crowd expected to march in Friday night’s parade.
The group will have a presence at the annual festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at Lions Park, 500 Filmore St., Elburn, with at least 75 people marching with the group at the parade.
“It’s just begun,” said Renee Dee, who founded a nonprofit organization, P.E.A.K. for Kids, which stands for promoting enrichment and kindness. She said the best way to describe the Kindness Campaign is that it is a community collaboration, inspired by the Knights Against Bullying group and sponsored by P.E.A.K. for Kids.
Leigh Ann Reusche has marveled at the progress made since Knights Against Bullying formed in an effort to address the issue in District 302. That movement began about a year ago, when some were making plans to appear at a school board meeting and push for change and solutions to bullying. The group took its name from the Kaneland High School mascot, the Knights.
Reusche was put on a bullying task force in the district, but there was a desire to go beyond that. Earlier this year, the Kindness Campaign was launched as a way to attack bullying by preventing it from taking place. Others joined the cause, including scouting organizations, the Elburn Lions Club, the Geneva-based Changing Children’s World Foundation and the Kaneland School District.
The word has spread, and Dee and Reusche consider the Elburn Days event to be significant. Members will be at the event, and youths can come and help create more banners, which include kids tracing handprints, with words or pictures drawn to promote the cause.
T-shirts also will be sold.
Reusche said organizations were eager to join the Kindness Campaign. When Knights Against Bullying first was formed, the mission was to identify bullying as a problem in the district and that “it’s not an issue that is going away,” she said. That’s still a focus, and Knights Against Bullying remains committed to that cause.
A key way to address that is to promote kindness. But both Dee and Reusche said the mission against bullying remains, and if it is identified in a specific instance, it needs to be addressed.
“It’s not acceptable to just walk past kids being mean to one another and say, ‘kids will be kids.’ … We all know that’s not acceptable behavior,” Dee said.
Those interested are urged to contact the organization, as organizers say they would welcome more participants in the parade. While anyone who wants to be part of it can just show up at Friday’s parade, Reusche said it’s best to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at email@example.com.