Two-hundred and twenty-eight 5th graders participated in two area Kindness Retreats-one on August 22nd at Faith Community Church in O’Neill, and the other retreat on August 23rd at the Niobrara Public School. Two hundred and ten 7th graders participated in the Courage Retreat at the Niobrara Public School on August 23rd. The Following schools attended: Boyd County, West Holt, Niobrara, Verdigre, O’Neill, Elgin, Chambers, Orchard, Clearwater, Creighton, Stuart, Ewing, and South Central.
Our professional facilitators from Youth Frontiers came from Minneapolis, MN. This group provides research based programs for schools across the US and Canada on age related character education.
- The purpose of the Courage retreat was to focus on the fear and pressure to follow the crowd, along with how fear can keep students from acting with courage. The second talk focused on courage, and the admirable action of choosing to act with courage despite their fears. The goal of both talks was to help students ask themselves important questions like, “What effects do my actions have on my school, my classroom, my friends, and myself?”
- The purpose of the Kindness Retreat was to focus on how bullying hurts, which creates a sense of empathy among the students, and how kindness can make a difference. The metaphor of the kindness boomerang – knowing that if you want to catch the kindness boomerang, you first have to throw it out there, and it will come back to you. The second talk focuses on being a hero for classmates by using tools like “ICI” (Interrupt, Compliment, and Invite Away) to stand up for and help others. The goal of both talks is to help kids ask themselves important questions like, “What effects do my unkind actions have on my school, my classroom, my friends, and myself.
Each retreat included an opening session with games and small and large group discussions. Both concluded with each student making a commitment to change one behavior of theirs to make a difference for themselves, their classmates, their school, and their community.
Thank you to the youth leaders: Gracelyn Adams, Heather Atkinson, Alex Brestel, Joseph Hiatt, Kalli Kayl, Mariah Smalley, Sydney Atkinson, Jayla Froman, Jared Koenig, Chase Harmon, Emma Stahlecker, Elsie Magwire, and Jacey Hilkemann.
Several organizations and businesses supported our retreats. Invenergy/Prairie Breeze Wind Energy gave a $200 donation towards the retreats. The Boyd County School kitchen prepared the cookies for going home. Faith Community Church allowed the use of their beautiful new youth center free of charge. The Niobrara Public School allowed the use of their facilities. The North Central Department of Health and the Holt County Family Preservation Group contributed $500 for Holt County Schools to attend. The O’Neill Public School kitchen donated donuts for the Kindness Retreat in O’Neill. A big thanks goes out to all!
Thank you also, to the schools that worked together to provide this opportunity to our students!