At Elementary School in West Virginia, Random Acts of Kindness

New York, N.Y.  A Random Act of Kindness, or “RAK,” is a selfless act performed by people to either help or cheer up a random stranger, for no reason other than to promote goodness, kindness, and happiness.

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Some of the fourth graders from Neale Elementary in Wood County, West Virgina.

Today I handed the guy in the toll booth on the memorial bridge a book of tickets. Saw the reaction of the person behind me and she paid for the next.”

Today I took my elderly neighbor a meal. She was so happy said she hadn’t had a home cooked meal in a long time.”

These are examples of random acts of kindness performed on Grant Day last year during its inaugural foundation week in his memory (September 5th).

Recently, sixty fourth graders from Neale Elementary in Vienna, West Virginia (Wood County) took a “field trip” to Charleston to the Clay Center. The theme of the trip was to perform RAK’s (Random Acts of Kindness) and the students made an effort to do at least one “Kind” thing for someone else, daily throughout the year.

The day before the ninety-mile excursion to the West Virginia capital city, the students read multiple Random Acts of Kindness that were performed during the inaugural Bauer Fund week of last year that we publicized last year by various media outlets.

Says, Mr. Jordan Brown, a teacher of these students, “Since the Bauer Fund has encouraged ‘kindness’ from its inception, our fourth grade team at Neale Elementary has adopted its mission to make the world a better place on a daily basis, and by doing RAK’s at a young age, it is our hope that they will carry this on throughout their journey through life.

The Bauer Fund was started by Dr. Bill Bauer after his son tragically ended his life over a year and a half ago.  Grant Bauer then aged 25, was a kind, thoughtful, and selfless individual who was always doing random acts of kindness for others.

The fund honors Grant by keeping him “alive” through the RAK’s performed worldwide. Those who have a variety of mental health conditions are considered “hidden disabilities.”

It is through The Bauer Fund that efforts are being made to promote prevention of suicide, to promote the destigmatation of mental health condition and to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. All of which Dr. Bauer feels are the most stigmatized and marginalized of our human population.

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A photo of teacher, Mr. Jordan Brown.

Upon reading and sharing the many Random Acts of Kindness from the articles written by Jim Luce from The Huffington Post and his Stewardship Report, each child wrote three possible acts they could do on the trip and thereafter. Each student implements RAK’s throughout the year but this trip was focused on doing them during the event. This helped focus the purpose of RAKs.

The teacher, Jordan Brown, is a graduate of the nationally known Marietta College education program. He based the theme of his classroom on the idea of responsibility and accountability – doing RAK’s makes you a better person and keeps his students from being selfish and inconsiderate.

Jordan says, “By doing the right thing and helping others, we can create positive relationships.”  His ten year olds are being mentored and taught how to be confident, and hope to grow up to be genuinely kind adults. Jordan’s wife, Kayla Chaney Brown, is also a Marietta College graduate who teaches in the Wood County system, West Virginia as well.

Lessons echoed throughout Mr. Brown’s classroom are:

  1. Do nice things for people without being recognized! A thank you is not necessary when doing RAK;
  2. Receiving a RAK is a feeling that is indescribable; and
  3. The kindness spread through the RAK multiplies and ripples. People do RAK’s all of the time at our school and community.

Jordan says, “I live in a town where a toll bridge crosses over the Ohio River from Ohio to West Virginia and vice versa. This place is prime location to commit RAK. I constantly pay for the people’s toll behind me. It’s only 50 cents it’s a good feeling to see their stunned faces.”

Mr. Jordan Brown says, “Dr. Bill Bauer helped mold me into the teacher I am today. During my time at Marietta College, Dr. Bauer taught life skills and how to be better people. I tutored his son Grant (who was the impetus for The Bauer Fund) for a semester in math during his junior year and am happy to spread the word on his legacy through the Bauer Fund!

“As you see in the pictures, our students ordered #RAK shirts (just like the #RAK Grantspeed” shirts). The goal of the experiment of RAK is that our shirt we wear is just a reminder of the way we should live everyday,” Jordan continued.

13227942_825962777573_1424740085_nStudents from Neale Elementary, West Virginia, in their #RAK shirts.

Although they continue to do RAK’s throughout the year , the class is looking forward to Grant Day (September 5, and Grant week September 5-12 as designated by the J. Luce Foundation).  “Grant” Day stands for “Genuine Respectful Actions Never Terminate.” This day is to be recognized around the world with Random Acts of Kindness (RAK’s).

Listed below are just a few of the RAK’s performed on the field trip.  Upon observation of my students during this trip and without provocation, the following happened:

  1. Students shared iPad ‘s on the bus.
  2. A students tooth fell out, and other students and teacher comforted the student.
  3. A student stayed behind and opened door for woman with stroller.
  4. Several students took out all of the trash to the Clay Center dumpster.
  5.  All trash was cleaned from the cafeteria and the trash bags changed ready to be taken out.
  6. The STEAM area was replaced for the next group.
  7. Bathroom trash made it to the trashcan.
  8. After unloading off the bus the students carried the coolers and rechecked the bus for lost items.
  • Opened door for a large group and voluntarily moved aside for them.
  • Students shared a lot of their own stuff on the bus, technology, snacks and books.
  • Young children were in the science galleries and we bent down next to them and guided them with the activities.
  • Picked up a dropped toy from one of the people there.
  • One student donated 5 lunches for students who did not pack a lunch

An elderly lady with two grandkids witnessed some of these RAKs and said, “It was so nice to see a well behaved group of children. They helped me chase after my little one”.

Students also shared with Mr. Brown that they:

  • Put $1 bill on the back of candy at dollar tree.
  • Gave water bottle to homeless man.
  • Donated shirts and clothes to needy family.
  • Paid for drive thru food at McDonald’s.
  • Bought everyone in line a milk shake.

After observing these children and their RAKs, Bree Deuley (4th grade teacher at Neale) stated, “We want to raise children to be contributing members of the world we live.”

Mr. Brown says, “I see a lot of selfishness in our society and people do not give without some sort of tax write off or appreciation. In my classroom, we teach how to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Many people do good solely for the payoff of getting something in return, this experience with the fourth graders was to teach selflessness, and that reward is not necessary.”

Jordan explains that Random Acts of Kindness are a great way for kids to feel important and to make themselves feel special. So many children came up to me today and told what they did to help – I am so proud that they were proud of themselves. They kept running up to me saying, “Mr. Brown I did this!  I helped this person!”

In conclusion Mr. Jordan Brown states, “Thank you Dr. Bauer for opening my eyes as a teacher and also as a husband and dad about the importance of giving. I am sorry that Grant’s passing is the reason for this cause. However, Grant was a very kind person and it sure is special to know Grant’s legacy is being carried on through the Bauer Fund and RAKS.”

With Grant Day three months away we want to promote RAKs in a big way.

If you do an RAK, take to any social media platform and post about it, and use the hashtag, #grantspeed.  Spread the word, and watch as selflessness and Grants legacy overcome selfish human nature.  You never know which action will make a difference in a person’s life.  By taking a moment out of one’s day to do something for someone else you may be making that difference.

Being selfless is a simple thing to do, as we have seen in the story of these fourth graders, and could have far reaching benefits for society.  Make it a part of every day to do something that isn’t for your benefit alone, and watch how the little things make the most important impact.  #Grantspeed.

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Mia Lazarus
I am a Senior at the University of Maryland. I am a Behavioral and Community Health major. I plan on attending grad school to get an MPH with a focus in global health in the near future. I am currently a senior intern and global advisor with the J. Luce Foundation.

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