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2024 Great Kindness Challenge: Sowing Seeds of Kindness in the Next Generation

Great Love Preschool Walnut, CA  |  February 20, 2024
Parents and children paint the Stone of Friendliness and Kindness. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai

Written by: Ihsuan Tsai, Julie Wu, Yiying Liang, Judy Anderson
Translated by: H.B. Qin
Edited by: Patrick McShane

The 2024 edition of the annual Great Kindness Challenge was held from January 22 to January 26 and attracted more than 19 million schoolchildren worldwide.

In Southern California, children at Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool, Walnut, took part in the Challenge by giving heartfelt gifts to the school’s campus guards to show appreciation for their everyday heroes. Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool, Monrovia, also located in Southern California, participated in the Challenge through an exciting program where children made Stones of Friendliness and Kindness with cards. They listened to stories of compassion and thought about ways to be kind to each other. 

The Great Kindness Challenge was a profound experience for the young students. The activities sowed seeds of kindness and empathy in the children’s hearts and helped children’s loving actions become spring rain, which quietly nourished the hearts of everyone in the school community.

A Tribute to Everyday Heroes

There are two security guards at Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool, Walnut. The guard responsible for the morning session is Mr. Oscar. He remembers all the children’s names, says good morning when they arrive at the school, and gives them high fives and fist bumps, starting their day with enthusiasm and kindness. His warm smile brightens up every child’s day. Mr. Ray, the security guard in charge of the afternoon session, also patiently guides drivers to drive safely and yield to the children. He greets the children in a friendly manner and does his utmost to keep them safe as they head home for the day. The children can learn and grow up happily with peace of mind daily under their dedicated protection.

Children give Mr. Oscar their favorite snacks to express their gratitude. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai
Campus guard Ray is pleased. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai

These two everyday heroes have earned the respect of teachers, students, and parents for their selfless care and responsibility toward children. Given daily kindness towards the entire community, it was no surprise that the children honored Mr. Ray and Mr. Oscar as part of this year’s Great Kindness Challenge. The children made posters, wrote cards, and brought gifts to the hard-working and dedicated campus guards to express their gratitude.

Thank you, Mr. Oscar, for protecting me. This gift is for you.

Mr. Oscar, was thrilled to receive the gifts from the children. He said, “I have been serving in our school for five years and love it here. The main reason is that greeting and interacting with the children is a joy. I received the gifts, so thank you for your loving gifts.”

Parents also found the event to be meaningful. They appreciated the activity, which deepened the children’s understanding of gratitude and respect and strengthened the connection between the school and community members. This show of gratitude  creates a community environment filled with love and appreciation. Parent Chen Yuan said, “We thank Mr. Oscar for guarding the children’s safety. He guides the traffic every morning and asks everyone to yield to the children. My child says I want to give him a high-five like this; she loves it so much, and we thank him. And then, we just want the children to take the initiative to give him a gift.”

The children take a photo with their beloved campus guard, Mr. Ray. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai
Mr. Oscar takes a photo with the children. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai

In addition to promoting a sense of gratitude, teachers also emphasized the importance of environmental protection. Classes watched an educational video titled ‘Nine Ways Kids Can Help the Environment,’ which informed students and teachers of nine environmental tips that children can do even at a young age, such as recycling, reducing waste, saving water, and caring for others while protecting the planet.

Painted Stones of Friendliness and Kindness

Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool, Monrovia, put on thoughtful, fun-filled events throughout the Great Kindness Challenge.

Parents and children painted Stones of Friendliness and Kindness and placed them in the school’s Friendliness and Kindness Garden. Each stone was carefully placed underneath the leafy trees and among the flowers swaying in the wind. These colorful stones seemed to tell a story of kindness from each little painter, adding a layer of warmth to the garden and making everyone who looked at it feel tenderness and compassion.

Each child paints many Stones of Friendliness and Kindness. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai
Parents and children take a group photo in the Friendliness and Kindness Garden. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai

The children also presented lovingly handmade cards to their teachers, translating the concept of compassion they had learned into practical action. These seemingly simple acts provided children with opportunities to show kindness and care and taught them that even the most minor acts can have  profound positive impacts on others. As parent Diana Jones said, “The Great Kindness Challenge week allows the children to slow down, reflect, and care for others. Even if they are very young, they need to be empathetic. For example, say hello, give someone a high five, or compliment someone. Trivial actions could have a positive impact on someone.”

The preschool also had a wonderful Kindness Storytime for the students. The children went to the Monrovia Library, where librarian Cynthia told the students a story about kindness. The children showed their gratitude by presenting Cynthia with hand-drawn thank-you cards and gifts, which was a happy surprise for the local librarian.

Monrovia librarian Cynthia (left) is overjoyed to receive the children's gifts. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai
Sherly Lam, author of Eco is Kind, tells children stories of kindness. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai

Even more exciting, the preschool invited illustrator Sherly Lam, author of Echo Is Kind, to come to the school to tell the children stories, which provided a window into empathy and inspired them to do good.

Education is not just about imparting knowledge but also about shaping character and values. Through the series of activities held during the Great Kindness Challenge week, children learned how to contribute positively to society through practical actions, even small actions like a smile, a greeting, or a painted stone, all of which can convey infinite warmth and goodwill. Through Tzu Chi’s nourishing and nurturing, the children at Great Love Preschools will become caring and responsible citizens.

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