EDUCATION – Robinson Elementary students spread kindness

Robinson Elementary students complete their “Our Stake in Growing Kindness” project at Metlox Plaza last Thursday. Photo by Yea-Lan Chiang

by Hibah Samad/MBUSD 

Robinson Elementary staff and 130 students joined schools around the globe for the 12th annual Great Kindness Challenge. Students took their school project idea beyond the classroom walls to spread kindness across the City of Manhattan Beach by installing their “Our Stake in Growing Kindness” project at Metlox.

Last Thursday morning, the students unveiled their artwork to the community, which is located on the fountain in the center of Metlox. Three-hundred succulents are displayed in the shape of a heart and if you look closer, each plant has a decorated “stake” with an act of kindness message. 

During the celebration, Robinson Principal Jackie O’Sullivan told the students how proud she was of them. The hope is that visitors to the plaza take home a succulent and are inspired to participate in an act of kindness. The idea is to grow kindness. 

“At Robinson, we believe kindness is contagious,” O’Sullivan said. “When we are kind to others, be kind in return. Kindness can create more kindness. We all have a ‘stake’ in growing kindness that’s the idea behind the project.” 

O’Sullivan said her students love being able to express themselves through acts of kindness. They see how even the smallest action or work can have an impact.

Robinson kindness workers plant their stakes at Metlox. Photo by Hibah Samad/MBUSD

At the unveiling ceremony, students placed the last of the succulents and dedicated their projects. This vision wouldn’t have been possible without the Manhattan Beach Unified School District’s teachers and PTSA. Parent and PSTA leader Yea-Lan Chiang spearheaded the project and wanted to beautify the fountain area. 

“I wanted to do something different,” Yea-Lan Chiang said. “It feels wonderful to see our kids contributing in a positive way to our community. I love that it’s a tactile project that is meaningful to our students, and we hope it will be meaningful for the public too.” 

Yea-Lan said the installation ties in with the program theme this year, “Grow Kindness.” In her 5th year as a parent volunteer, it’s been a tradition for her to participate in kindness week. She said when staff, students, and volunteers first began this work, they always wanted to build the week around public art.

This isn’t the first time Robinson students have brought smiles to locals through kindness. Last year, they installed “Kindness Chains.” Colorful paper links with kind messages on them. 

While the succulents may be the heart of the Great Kindness Challenge Week, students spent the week practicing acts of kindness and carrying out “THE PLATINUM RULE,” which Robinson Riptides say is about treating others how they want to be treated. 

The succulents will be at Metlox through February 3. Students plan to place more “stakes” throughout Manhattan Beach. Annually more than 18 million students from more than 38,000 schools from 115 countries around the world take part in the challenge. The Great Kindness Challenge was launched in 2012 to address bullying to foster connection, inclusion, and compassion at schools.

School representatives say they are grateful to the City Council and Metlox for allowing this project to happen. ER


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