Newsmakers: Renee Dee and Leigh Ann Reusche
Spreading the message of kindness in Kaneland
The bright green logo for the Kindness Campaign popped up on T-shirts throughout the Kaneland area in 2013. The logo is simple – a circle, featuring the words “Be Nice” and “Be Happy,” as well as a smile.
But the message was significant and was credited with helping build critical unity in the area’s fight against bullying. Two of the group’s leaders – Renee Dee and Leigh Ann Reusche – played a key role in spreading the message, and an effort that was launched in August has become active and prominent.
The issue has been in a spotlight in Kaneland, and in 2012, community members packed a District 302 school board meeting and said district officials weren’t doing enough to fight bullying, bringing forward a group called Knights Against Bullying.
But at a meeting in 2013, board members wore pins displaying the Kindness Campaign’s logo.
Superintendent Jeff Schuler walked with the group at the Elburn Days parade. In October, Kaneland schools and municipalities observed Kindness in Kaneland Week.
Knights Against Bullying 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. 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.
Dee and Reusche have stressed that much work remains to be done, and they were quick to credit others with spreading the message, including Mike Morkert from Java Plus Cafe at the Sugar Grove Public Library and library director Carol Dolin.
Also, Dee said Kaneland School Board President Cheryl Krauspe has provided “unlimited support from the beginning.” C.J. Conley from Conley Funeral Home provided stickers for distribution during Kindness in Kaneland Week. And she said Kane County Board member Melisa Taylor helped the group in its efforts to have municipalities, including the County Board, make proclamations for Kindness in Kaneland Week.
– Al Lagattolla