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Education Program Spreads Kindness in Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – At least 180 Westport third-graders and 40 Westport businesses helped spread kindness, empathy and the message that it’s “Kool to be Kind” throughout town by participating in a scavenger hunt .

Kool to be Kind, an anti-bullying pilot program founded by four Westport moms, held a Scavenger Hunt for Kindness last month. The goal was to educate the public about Kool to be Kind and spread anti-bullying awareness.

“Our intent was to continue reinforcing the message that we are giving the third-graders in the classroom: that there is power in simple acts of kindness and when one person supports another, the kindness can spread to an entire community,” said program co-founder Cindy Eigen.

During the scavenger hunt, the students had to find 40 “Ally Power” posters that had been placed in a variety of businesses. Because the students’ parents had to participate as well, program co-founder Sarah Green said the hunt was a success. Not only did it help start dialogue in the community, Green said it also prompted conversation between the students and their parents, and even any siblings who tagged along.

Eigen, Green, Melissa Shein and Lynne Goldstein launched Kool to be Kind last year. The program, which trains high school students to act as mentors to third-graders, is being piloted in all third-grade classrooms at Long Lots and Coleytown Elementary schools.

As part of the program, the high school students visit the third-graders in their classrooms, five times during the year, and lead interactive lessons that promote kindness, empathy and the creation of allies. About 45 Staples students participate in the program.

Green said the scavenger hunt was such a success, she and the other co-founders hope to make it an annual event. Other community events are in the works for the future.

“Everyone we talked to really enjoyed doing it—we heard only positive feedback,” Green said. “We have a lot of ideas for events down the road, but nothing solid yet. Westport is already a great town. We’re just trying to make it greater.”

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