HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - An attempt to spread kindness on a global scale has made its way to South Mississippi. That's the idea behind the lessons being taught at Harrison County Schools throughout this week.
"You never want to make someone feel worse. You want to help them feel better," said Genesis Aguilera, a sixth-grader at River Oaks Elementary.
Many of the activities the students complete will help reinforce an idea of compassion and respect. Positive messages are being spelled out on decorative signs and kindness paper chains to drive the message home.
"You want others to treat you the way you want to be treated," said Three Rivers Elementary fourth-grader Charlie Fairley.
His classmate, Parrish Laiche agreed, "Being kind to somebody can stop them from feeling some kind of way."
It's all part of the Great Kindness Challenge, a nationwide effort to emphasize the importance of how we treat one another.
"The district talks about wanting to reduce bullying. That's something we talk about nationwide. And we're never going to be able to do that if people don't have empathy for one another and kindness is just the root of all of it," said Three Rivers Elementary spokeswoman Nicole Miller.
Tonta McCoy, a fourth-grade teacher at Three Rivers, shares that mentality with her students all year long.
"I feel like if we are able to be safe in the classroom and treat each other with kindness, then they can learn anything," said McCoy.
Her students get the message loud and clear. Along with the rest of the school, they will be tasked with performing random acts of kindness to their classmates over the next week and beyond.
One of McCoy's students, Ciara Bullard, knows the importance of kindness first hand.
"Like my brother, he has autism, he doesn't make friends. And sometimes he needs somebody to help him out, or when you fell down and hit your knee, it's whatever. Lots of people have troubles in everyday life," she said.
The Harrison County School District is hoping that when those troubles arise, a little kindness will be there to meet them. The Great Kindness Challenge impacted more than 10 million students at more than 15,000 schools worldwide in 2017.