by Lorna M. Hartman
EWU is setting aside Feb. 14 to Mar. 11 for 26 Days of Kindness to commemorate the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School and to bring the campus together for a good cause, according to Director of Community Engagement Molly Ayers.
The week after the shootings in Sandy Hook, Ayers happened to see former Today show anchor Ann Curry’s broadcast featuring the idea of 26 acts of kindness to honor the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Ayers brainstormed with other staff members, discussing how they could make the idea work as a social media-centered campaign. “I’m new. The office is brand new here,” said Ayers. “Lots of people were brainstorming and getting excited about it.”
According to Ayers, when students Reanne Charuhas and Mimi Mulambo heard about the idea of 26 Days of Kindness, they were passionate about it and decided to help move it forward themselves. They did much of the work of spreading the word among students.
The launch event for the 26 Days of Kindness project was John de Graaf’s Happiness Initiative presentation in JFK Library on Feb. 14.
“We ended up having the same kickoff event for the Kindness project and the Happiness project,” said Carol King, EWU libraries administrator.
On that day, the Eagle Entertainment office’s hand mural project also launched. Students can visit the Eagle Entertainment office at PUB 225 to add their hands to the mural with their acts of kindness or positive words written on their traced hand cutouts.
“EWU’s 26 Days of Kindness” Facebook page went up in early February. As of Feb. 15, 317 students have accepted the page invite, and many students have posted their “act of kindness” projects or posed for posters with their acts of kindness written on them.
“One fraternity decided to do high fives,” said Ayers. “The Active Minds group is planning a mental health day to talk about mental health. It ranges from educational to things that are light and fun.”
Ideas are posted on EWU’s community engagement Facebook page along with notes from participants and discussions. More than 40 acts of kindness were in motion by the time 26 Days of Kindness launched on Feb. 14 with over 250 students, faculty and staff participating.
“I think it’s easier to connect with students with Facebook,” said Ayers. “It builds community and gets the whole institution behind something positive. … This is something that lives or dies by students’ interest, so I think the students really made it their own.”
Professor of recreation management Barbara Brock and author John de Graaf kicked off the Happiness Initiative event as well as the 26 Days of Kindness at the JFK Library Feb. 14. De Graaf gave a presentation about measuring happiness and steps to improve well-being.