25 Nov Teaching Kindness
It all began with a tweet on November 30, 2018 by Ms. Blancas that went viral. Ms. Blancas teaches first grade at Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary, a pre-K to 5th grade bilingual school in the border town of El Paso, TX. She posted a video of her first graders leaving the class room and selecting a fist bump, a high five, or a hug to share with one of their classmates as they filed out of the room for the day. Spoiler alert: the majority of the kids chose the hug!
The exponential ripple effect of goodness that these beautiful children in El Paso are creating across the universe through the timeline of their and our lives.....that's the ROI of #pinksocks! Click To Tweet
As Ms. Blancas’s video made the rounds on social media, Larry Gioia from Pittsburgh, PA saw it on Twitter and gifted Ms. Blancas her pinksocks. Once I saw that tweet, I reached out to Ms. Blancas and asked her how many kids she had in her class. There were then 32 pairs of pinksocks en route to El Paso. The subsequent tweets from Ms. Blancas and her kids in their pinksocks helped fill the Twittersphere with lots of smiles.
Near the end of the spring term in 2019 I again reached out to Ms. Blancas with an idea: when her kids came back from summer break in August as new second graders, have them gift her new class of first graders their pinksocks. Ms. Blancas teamed up with the second grade teachers and again Twitter was full of more happy smiley kids from El Paso wearing their pinksocks.
Then, tragedy struck in El Paso. These beautiful children, their teachers, helpers, all the staff at Shook Elementary had zero degrees of separation from the pain and the loss caused by the shooting at Walmart. The senselessness of it was gripping, as is the case with all of the shootings happening in the United States. Here’s a school teaching these kids that the world would rather hug them than hurt them, then darkness happens. I felt we, the pinksocks tribe from around the world, had to send the school a message of love and support from all of us. I messaged Ms. Blancas to ask her how many pairs of pinksocks it would take for the entire school – the kids, the teachers, the helpers, everyone, to be gifted pinksocks. I didn’t tweet it, I just back channel messaged a few people in the tribe…..in 7 days we had the money donated to send 1,337 pairs of pinksocks to El Paso.
So, it was on November 19, 2019 Julie Reisetter & Zoe Martinez from Denver, Kimberly George from Chicago, and I flew in to El Paso to see and share space with everyone at Shook Elementary, and bear witness to the fact that yes “the world is full of good!” as 1,337 pairs of pinksocks were gifted!
We had to be at the school at 8:30 that morning. As Julie, Kimberly, and I were exiting our Lyft ride at the school, I said “ok, we can’t lose our shit when we go in here, we can’t cry.” As soon as we entered the school on our way to the principal’s office to sign in and get our visitor badges, down the hall right in front of us walking single file go the little cheerleaders in their pinksocks, pony tails in pink bows with mustaches on them, pom poms……all 4 of us are instantly full on crying. The kind of crying where you actually make noises. We were greeted by the school principal Mrs. Chavira in her pinksocks hugging us and telling us we could pull it together. I felt like I was back in elementary school again, and it was great!
With the school having so many kids, Mrs. Chavira and her team organized the kids into two separate assemblies that were held in the gym. One at 8:30 and then one after lunch at 1:30. Have you ever been to a “kindness pep rally?” I have! The cheerleaders were leading 600+ kids in a “RE-SPECT! KIND-NESS!” cheer, Mrs. Chavira shared the pinksocks message and instructed the kids and teachers to wear their pinksocks every Monday as they focus on teaching kindness, Julie led the kids in a kindness pledge, I directed the kids as they gifted each other their pinksocks, the assembly sang happy birthday to Ms. Blancas (Yes, it was her birthday!), then the kids did the world’s largest cinnamon roll hug ever. Watching 600+ kids circle around Mrs. Chavira was amazing! We only did the cinnamon roll hug at the morning kindness rally since the afternoon rally was full of so many of the pre-K and K classes. We didn’t want anyone to get squished!
Between the kindness pep rallies we got a tour of the school and went class to class meeting each of the teachers and their students. When I say “heart wide open”……I’m not even certain I can convey how wide open our hearts were. So many beautiful, kind, smiling faces! And, there was artwork everywhere throughout the school that the kids had done regarding what kindness meant to each of them. Julie, Kim, and I just kept checking in with each other with “this is the greatest pinksocks day ever” as we walked the halls.
We had lunch with Mrs. Chavira, her administration team, and the school counselors in the teacher’s lounge. They had decorated the room with pinksocks art, and “love more fear less” on the board in the room. They shared with us how kindness is part of Shook Elementary’s everyday curriculum……it was obvious from seeing the kids with each other that it is working! I shared with them that as the pinksocks tribe has grown to over 100K people all around the world, and I am grateful to have seen so many wonderful people doing good things in their communities and organizations…..that being here at Shook Elementary on this day, was the best. Insert more of me crying here.
In the afternoon kindness pep rally, the high school cheerleaders joined the Shook cheerleaders……it was then that I knew we had to share the pinksocks message to the middle school and eventually to the high school. The fifth graders have to have a soft place to land when they enter middle school. They are going to need their tribe there waiting on them for the next phase of their education as they progress and grow through the school system. And so it, Mrs. Chavira the principal at Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary has already introduced us to Mrs. Batson the principal at Col. John O. Ensor Middle School where 1,125 middle school students and 120 staff members will be gifting each other their pinksocks in the spring of 2020!
As the message on the label of the pinksocks says, “The world is full of good! When you believe it, you see it. Keep doing that!” The tribe is doing that! You are doing that! The exponential ripple effect of goodness that these beautiful children in El Paso are creating across the universe through the timeline of their and our lives…..that’s the ROI of pinksocks!
How do we do it? Through donations from awesome people just like YOU! Pinksocks Life, Inc. is a nonprofit focused on promoting human connection around the world, and it’s because of a global tribe of happy smiley people that cheer each other on, that we’re able to share in and be a part of stories like El Paso. You are invited to donate, to wear pinksocks, to gift pinksocks, and to keep creating smiles each and every day.