December 24, 2012 - 3:04 PM
If you ran into a group of twelve-year-olds running around town in Santa hats this week, chances are your spirits were lifted a couple notches.
A Vernon teacher is helping kids spread the Christmas spirit outside the classroom this year in some very creative ways. Students in Ellison Elementary School Kim Ondrik's class took to the streets with grins on their faces and cheer in their pockets. Their random acts of kindness caught people off guard, and gave them something to think about.
"It's impacted my life as much as theirs," Miranda Hutchison says. She adds that Ondrik's class is often out of the ordinary, and that all the students love it.
The idea has been collaborative between the students and their teacher right from the start.
"We're a democracy," Ondrik says.
The class focused on four ideas to make a difference in people's lives. The first was Christmas caroling.
"We went into Starbucks and starting singing," Kayla Sargeant says. "People started clapping along with us." She adds that We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Holly Jolly Christmas are the most fun songs to sing, and the ones that get people going the most.
Emily Labrie says a similar thing happened when they were caroling at A&W. "Everyone just started smiling," she says.
The second idea demanded the coining of a new word: "baublization," which involves decorating Vernon's streets with Christmas baubles. The kids say they went all along Main Street, up to the courthouse, and into Polson Park.
The third idea is called "Chew on it." Handmade paper boxes containing a stick of gum and an inspirational quote were handed out to shop owners and passersby. The kids carried the boxes around town in a laundry hamper, and presented the origami-like boxes to anyone who went by.
Willow Rhoades says she stayed up till 11:00pm one night to make sure they had enough boxes, and is quick to point out other students who worked just as hard.
"It was worth it," she says of the late night. Her favourite quote is by Thomas Edward: "I haven't failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work."
The last idea involves graffiti, and required some discussion with the police. A lot of the students hang out at the Polson Park skatepark after school, and none of them enjoyed the swear words painted on the concrete. On Friday, the 21st, the kids will spray paint positive words and phrases over the harmful ones.
The students say they didn't want to get in trouble, so they checked with the city and the RCMP first, both of which gave them the thumbs up.
The project, which has involved walking up to strangers, has given the kids confidence. Having lunch every day at the Upper Room Mission and interacting with the people there gave them perspective on what the holidays mean for different community groups.
"The best thing is seeing people's faces when you give them a candy," Brianne Bertram says.
The class agrees they'll all continue doing random acts of kindness when school lets out for the holidays. Between their ear-to-ear smiles and worker-elf dedication, they seem downright addicted to cheer.
Blake Balmer puts the acts of kindness project simply: "It's awesome, it's fun, and it's nice for people."
The class hopes their actions will inspire others to pass on the joy, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
"We realized when we gave joy, we got it back," reflects Kayla Sargeant.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012