SUGAR GROVE – Mike Morkert took note of two women who would meet at the Java Plus cafe he operates at the Sugar Grove Public Library. They were making plans for what would become the Kindness Campaign, part of an anti-bullying message that is spreading quickly in the Kaneland community.
Morkert described the women – Renee Dee and Leigh Ann Reusche – as “just awesome.” He wanted to get on board. He now stocks the Kindness Campaign’s signature bright green T-shirts at his shop.
“I’ll do whatever I can to support it,” Morkert said.
This is Kindness in Kaneland Week, a proclamation that has been made at board meetings in Sugar Grove and Elburn, as well as the Kane County Board. At Kaneland High School, groups such as Peer Leadership, PODA (Prevention of Dangerous Acts) and the Gay Straight Alliance will spread the message. Girl Scouts will be at Harter Middle School. Pompon squads from Kaneland and Sycamore will perform with a united message at a match between the schools Thursday.
Mike Rice, the assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at Kaneland High School, said students will be giving out “kindness coupons” to students “caught in the act” of a random act of kindness.
“I am excited for the impact this week is going to have across the community,” Rice said. “I think any time we can draw attention to treating each other with kindness and respect, it is a good thing, and I’m so glad that Kaneland schools can be a part of the week.”
At the Sugar Grove Public Library, 125 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove, the library has given its various programs a kindness theme. Also, there are three movie screenings – “Crash” at 11 a.m. Saturday, “Bully” at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and “American Teen” at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
A little more than a year ago, a group calling itself Knights Against Bullying showed up in force at a Kaneland School Board meeting, demanding action be taken to combat Kaneland’s bullying situations. That group remains, but now there also is the Kindness Campaign, which focuses on making sure kids know they have the option to be kind, and a nonprofit organization, P.E.A.K. for Kids, which stands for promoting enrichment and kindness.
Renee Dee, the founder of P.E.A.K., has said the best way to describe the dynamic is that the Kindness Campaign is a community collaboration, inspired by the Knights Against Bullying and sponsored by P.E.A.K. for Kids.
Group leaders have spread their message throughout the Kaneland area, and they found an eager partner in the Sugar Grove library. Sarah Barbel, the youth services director, said those in the classes have embraced the concept. Barbel also wrote a poem, “Rainbow of Kindness,” which states: “We are all part of a colorful rainbow. We all matter. We all have feelings. Together we make a beautiful rainbow. We will be nice. We will be happy!”
Carol Dolin, the library director, said all are welcome for the movies, but she stressed they will be shown in the teen zone. So even though “Crash” is rated R, those who want to see the movie won’t be turned away.
Dolin said she was happy to join the effort.
“It’s a really important initiative,” she said. “When Renee approached us about being a part of it, I was like, yeah, what can we do?”
Melisa Taylor, a Kane County Board member from Sugar Grove, saluted the group for putting together the proclamations that have been read at board meetings over the past few weeks.
Taylor said it’s important to send a message that “bullying is unacceptable.” She said the ideal situation would be a future in which children don’t even remember what bullying was about.
“It will be a beautiful day when children will go, ‘What is bullying?’”she said.
To learn more about the Kindness Campaign and Knights Against Bullying, visit their Facebook pages. For information on Sugar Grove Public Library events, visit www.sugargrove.lib.il.us.