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Overton kicks off week of kindness with community tunnel

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Overton Elementary School on Monday kicked off its participation in an annual event with a community kindness tunnel to greet each student as they arrived at school.

Community leaders, including a host of police and firefighters, came to Overton to participate by  waving the kids in and giving plenty of fist bumps. Overton holds its kindness week as part of the Great Kindness Challenge, a global event. Overton School Counselor Rosemary Wood said the week is part of how the school teaches students kindness, an emotional skill that helps prevent bullying.

“Teaching kindness is one of the most effective ways to prevent bullying,” Wood said.

Students will write positive notes to each other throughout the week and have a checklist to compile 50 examples of how to be kind.

The students will decorate a fence at the school and spell out the word “kindness” as well as a photo opportunity where the word “kind” is spelled out without the I, to be filled in by the students who are the “I.” The school will also learn the song “Kind-Hearted Hand.”

“It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year,” Wood said. “The kids enjoy it, the parents enjoy it, the staff love it.”

The school has tried different things each year to see what works. Last year, kids decorated kindness rocks with positive sayings to place somewhere in the community.

“I feel like it shows our scholars a show of solidarity, of community support, of role models and leaders to look up to,” said PTA member Meredith Honeycutt.

Salisbury Fire Department’s Lt. Zack Grimes said any chance the department takes any chance it gets to spread some kindness and joy in the community.

“You can’t pass that up,” Grimes said.

Grimes said he enjoys seeing the kids and getting to brighten their days. Firefighters from Engine No. 3 are at the school often. Many Fridays, firefighters will come eat lunch with the students.

“We show up on their darkest day, we show up in their time of need and we’re there to help,” Grimes said. “We have a pretty positive image anyway, but it definitely helps the fire department’s image. That’s not why we do it, it’s not really about our image. It’s what we do.”

Salisbury City Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield read the kindness quote for the day over the intercom as classes began. The quote, from civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said “Love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.”

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