Dwayne was able to create an amazing response within our entire school and especially within the groups of students that we worked with in the small-group sessions.
The program format that Dwayne uses is very simple, but as it is with many large-scale operations, these good results only come with a set of comprehensive and very carefully laid-out plans. Dwayne was involved in preparing us for what he hoped to accomplish in his week at Lindsay Thurber, for putting on an amazing week of work with the kids, and for answering questions and providing post-program support.
Our teaching staff reported a number of positive results that they were able to observe from this presentation. As an example, one teacher wrote, “Please know your efforts are appreciated. Working as I do with a minority population in our school, I am so proud you have chosen to take action. I am just a bit protective of ‘our kids’ and know that a lot of what Dwayne talked about affects them. We would be silly to think all of the things he talked about don’t happen in our school and within our community.” This program rings true with teachers and kids because the things Dwayne talks about DO happen.
Following the school-wide presentation, Dwayne worked in a small group format for the next four days. In groups of 25 students, which were prepared mostly in advance of Dwayne’s arrival, the main message of, “You don’t need to know someone’s story to have compassion, understanding and respect for that person,” was promoted. One participating student wrote me a note after spending a day with us in the small-group session, “First I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart! Today was really amazing! Feeling the group dynamic switch from strangers to friends was phenomenal. I feel such a connection with everyone who was in our group today, and I am really glad they’ve been brought into my life.” As a further testament to the power of these sessions, I had over one hundred student-contacts, looking for my counselling services, as a follow-up to these sessions. Remarkable!
If the results of the good work which was done in our small-group sessions was limited to impacting the small-group participants only, then this program might not have the potency that I am attributing to it. In contrast, I believe meaningful school-wide change came from this activity. In a follow-up to the program we had hundreds of “Random Acts of Kindness” recorded in our school, as we took note of what could happen in a community of 1700 students and adults if a positive focus was made.
Just as powerful was our student body’s reaction to a disgusting act of callousness which was promoted on the internet as kick-a-ginger day. On a school-wide announcement, one of our small group participants read the following words, “Yesterday we congratulated the students and staff of our school for recording 113 Random Acts of Kindness. Yesterday, as well, we are saddened to say that one student in our school reported that he was kicked by a multitude of students in what has been promoted as kick-a-ginger day. These acts of violence remind all of us that it is of utmost importance to RE-THINK our actions on a daily basis. Today, in the final day of our RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS campaign, we ask that you continue to promote kindness in our school, and that you take the time to record the wonderful things students and staff do for each other on a regular basis.” The school responded by recording over 200 acts of kindness.
I continued to receive a great number of e-mails, comments, and feedback from students, teachers, administration, parents, and staff about the differences that were being noticed in the students’ behaviours, demeanour, and in their choices. Following the Remembrance Day ceremony, it was noted that because of the work which was done with Dwayne Peace that our students’ behaviour at the assembly was better than ever. I cannot remember a presentation receiving so much feedback from such a wide array of staff, students, or parents.
– Brian J. Madill (B.Ed.; M.A.C.P.)
Counsellor Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School