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Kids for Peace began with the belief that all schoolchildren can play an active role in creating a better world. Gandhi’s words helped inspire the nonprofit organization, “If we are to reach real peace in this world … we shall have to begin with children.”

Now, Kids for Peace is a global force for kindness, generosity and peace for all.

Kids for Peace in Iraq- Kids everywhere want peace!

Founded in 2006 by a Carlsbad mom and a high school honors student, Kids for Peace provides a platform for children of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds to actively engage in socially conscious leadership, community service, arts, environmental stewardship and global friendship. In eight years, they have launched more than 250 chapters in 28 countries in six continents.

This year, 1,099 schools in every U.S. state and across the world took part in The Great Kindness Challenge, their annual event which focuses on creating a culture of kindness of campus. More than 550,000 students participated, inspiring almost 28 million acts of kindness.

Making new friends in Kenya with 12-year-old Hana through one of the four programs at Kids for Peace, Global Friends.

“We’re going big, and it all started right here in San Diego County,” Jill McManigal, the co-founder and executive director of Kids for Peace, said.

Indeed, The Great Kindness Challenge came to life in three schools from Carlsbad in 2012.

“My children’s school wanted to do more to create a positive school climate,” McManigal recalled. “They asked if we could help come up with something, and we developed the Great Kindness Challenge-School Edition based on the fact that kids love to be active and involved and have a positive impact in all things they do.”

The Great Kindness Challenge is a simple concept. Students are challenged to complete as many kind deeds as possible in one week using a provided 50-item checklist.

“The idea is that as kids do kind act after kind act, kindness becomes a habit. As kindness becomes a habit, peace becomes possible,” McManigal said. “Each act of kindness inspires three others in a ripple effect, giving them an opportunity to be agents of change.”

Samples of the 50 acts of kindness are:
• Sit with a new friend during lunch.
• Read a book to a younger child.
• Tell a joke and make someone laugh.
• Thank your principal creatively.

Kids for Peace member Donovan with the Great Kindness Challenge checklist.

“We want to help create schools that are safe and inspiring, where students feel engaged and connected to their classmates,” McManigal said. “Studies show students thrive in a kind, supportive and respectful school environment.”

The fourth annual Great Kindness Challenge- School Edition will be held next year from Jan. 26 to 30. It is expected to include 5,000 schools and two million students creating 100 million acts of kindness. By 2020, they aim to include all 140,000 U.S. K-12 public and private schools.

Great Kindness Challenge Kick-Off participant poses with her sign.

“When we’re doing positive things,” McManigal said. “It feeds more positivity and helps create an environment in which we all can thrive.”

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