Kindness. According to Motherly’s 2019 State of Motherhood survey, 46 percent of moms say this is the number one character trait they want to cultivate in their children. Kindness came out ahead of other positive qualities such as respect, resilience, open-mindedness, curiosity, intelligence, braveness, generosity, and tolerance.
Maurice Elias, director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, says the first step in kindness for a young child is helping. Elias believes that doing good and helping others is integral to helping demonstrate the value of kindness to your child. For example, by bringing them along when you drop off donations at a food or clothing drive or volunteering together at a soup kitchen during a holiday, parents show their children that being kind can make a big difference in the lives of others in need.
In her blog on Allforkids.org, Ellie Kapsalis concludes that “Teaching your children about the act of giving will show them how to live life with abundance. Through philanthropy, their hearts will become rich, and they will develop deeper empathy, organizational skills, collaboration, and leadership. Children become witnesses to the differences they make when we provide them a platform to cultivate change. Children learn by example, so setting that example is essential.”
Children also learn by doing, and last month, Montclare students had an opportunity to do their own acts of kindness when the school’s two, three, and four-year-olds jumped on tricycles in the school gym, enthusiastically pedaling to complete as many circuits as possible in their efforts to raise dollars in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Familiar to many, the hospital, founded by Danny Thomas, has been on a mission to “advance cures, and means of prevention, for catastrophic pediatric diseases through research and treatment.” Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall survival rate for childhood cancer from 20% when the hospital opened in 1962 to more than 80% today.
Adhering to Covid safety protocols, Montclare staggered trike sessions by class, beginning early in the morning and continuing throughout the day. In total, 45 two-year-olds, 42 three-year-olds, and 37 four-year-olds circled the gym for over five hours, and with the help of their equally philanthropic and dedicated parents, they raised more than $13,000 to help the children of St. Jude. While the event is an annual one for the research hospital, it was the first year Montclare participated.
“The overwhelming support from our parents, and the incredible fun had by our students while participating in an activity that supports all of our values and the school’s emphasis on social-emotional learning for which kindness, compassion, and empathy are key characteristics, ensures that the St. Jude’s Trike-A-Thon will become an annual tradition here,” said Executive Director, Cathy Makropoulos.
And that tradition will continue to directly contribute to the significant research conducted at St. Jude while furthering one of its most notable attributes. At St. Jude’s, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family’s ability to pay. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food — because St. Jude’s believes “all a family should worry about is helping their child live.”
The funds raised through Montclare’s very first Trike-A-Thon, and those that follow, will help St. Jude keep that promise.