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Westport Kids Hunt for Signs of Kindness

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport third-graders and merchants are teaming up this week to spread anti-bullying awareness throughout the community by holding a scavenger hunt.

Kool to be Kind , an anti-bullying pilot program founded by four Westport moms and professionals, kicked off the "Hunt for Kindness" on Monday. But this scavenger hunt isn't just a fun activity — it's a way to spread awareness about the program and to get the community on board with spreading kindness.

"We were looking for a way to expand the idea that it's cool to be a nice person," said Kool to be Kind co-founder Sarah Green. "And what better way than to have parents and the community involved?"

Green, along with Cindy Eigen, Melissa Shein and Lynne Goldstein, were inspired to start Kool to be Kind last year by programs offered through the Anti-Defamation League. Last year, the program was tested in two third-grade classrooms at Long Lots and Coleytown Elementary schools. This year, Green said, the program is being piloted in all third-grade classrooms at those schools.

In the program, trained students from Staples High School serve as role models to the third-graders and lead interactive lessons that promote kindness, empathy and the creation of allies. A total of 45 Staples students participate in the program, all of whom were trained by the Anti-Defamation League and then by the Kool to be Kind founders, who were also trained by the ADL, Green said.

As part of the scavenger hunt, the third-grade students will solve clues that lead them to 40 handmade posters located at a variety of Westport businesses, including Earth Animal, Crumbs, Westport Pizzeria, Lulu Lemon and the Westport Public Library. Created by the elementary students and their high school mentors, each poster promotes "Ally Power," and includes other terms that the students have learned, Green said. These posters, the program's founders hope, will spark community conversation.

"[Parents] will see words on the posters that the kids are learning in the lessons and they will be prompted to ask their kids if they know what the words mean," Green, Eigen, Shein and Goldstein said. "Others who enter these places of business will see the posters hanging in shop windows or on walls. They will likely ask about the posters and what they mean."

Participating businesses will hand out Kool to be Kind fliers to anyone who asks about the posters or want to learn more about the program. A number of the merchants have also vowed to make special Kool to be Kind references in their places of business, Green said. Crumbs, for example, is making a K2BK cupcake and Earth Animal hopes to make a K2BKannie cookie.

"We're extremely proud of the four Westport women who founded this, so proud of the high school students participating, and proud of the idea," said Susan Goldstein, co-founder of Earth Animal. "We've recently added to our corporate mission statement that we want to acknowledge children who display random acts of kindness. So when we were approached about the scavenger hunt, it was right up our alley."

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