A Kinder Community

Student, teacher and parent groups on campus celebrate National Kindness Month

The golden rule “treat others how you want to be treated” is especially important this February, as it is National Kindness Month. The University Prep community is partaking in this celebration of goodwill.

Groups like the Parent Guardian Association (PGA), Students of Service club and a newly formed Kindness Committee are working on Kindness Month Programming. Mary Balmaceda and Nicole Mirzhandani are Community Service Event Liaisons for the PGA.

“It’s National Kindness Month and one of the things that we’ve been talking about as a community service committee is how do we double down on the culture of kindness that UPrep is known for,” Mirzhandani said.

Both UPrep parents agree that modeling community service is important for the school.

“We do community service activities with our own families, but then when you come together as a community, as a school, and do service together, that also does something for the school,” Balmaceda said. “It really bonds the families together.”

In an effort to get students from the Upper School involved, the PGA collaborated with the Students of Service club to put on a coat drive. Maddie Takamiya is a junior and co-president of the club, along with junior Eliza Barton.

“In preparation, Eliza and I organized volunteers to make colorful posters for the drive, hold signs at the drive-in and collect jackets from cars,” Takamiya said. “I designed flyers to hang around the school and we advertised a few weeks in advance.”

The club collected jackets for Treehouse for Kids, a non-profit that provides resources to foster children.

“This cause is extremely important because every kid deserves to be warm, even in the Seattle winter, and so many people have spare clothes lying around,” Takamiya said. “Our drive was successful and we’re so proud that we managed to collect over 200 jackets, meaning 200 kids can play outside during the winter.”

The Students of Service club and PGA are also hosting Kindness Bingo. Students can receive up to five service hours for completing a bingo card, which is filled with tasks that promote self-care and giving back to the community. In addition to Kindness Bingo, the PGA is looking forward to assembling hygiene kits for people facing homelessness in March and cleaning up parks on Earth Day in April.

“Just as we think about creating a sense of belonging at the school and making sure that everyone feels included and as part of the puma community, this can bring a lot of pride if you are actually out there reaching out to others and trying to include them in things that are happening in the school,” Mirzhandani said. “Part of the objective is just opportunities for everyone to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

At the beginning of this school year, the Kindness Committee was formed. A group of teachers meet to work on kindness programming for both students and adults. Assistant Director of Middle School Tim Blok is a co-chair of the Student Kindness Committee.

“We just introduced Caught Being Kind cards and are planning to work with the ASB to promote more kindness initiatives that are student-driven,” Blok said. “While we didn’t plan the Kindness Bingo, we are super excited to see our parent/guardian community encouraging students to practice and think about kindness.”

Takamiya believes it is important for the UPrep community to give back and be involved in community service, but that Kindness Month also means being kind to oneself.

“Someone once asked me, ‘How can you be so kind to others, but not to yourself?’ which really stuck,” Takamiya said. “In February, I hope that everyone can lend themselves and others some grace during the stress of the school year.”