The Lake Superior School District received recognition from the Minnesota Rural Education Association for developing and implementing a program that produced results among students.
Two Harbors High School DECA's "Find the Kind" challenge garnered one of the MREA's two 2019 Profile of Excellence awards at the annual conference in Brainerd on Nov. 18.
"'Find the Kind': Sounds simple, yet the impact has been so profound as a group of students at Lake Superior High School discovered," Mary Cathryn Ricker, Minnesota state education commissioner, said while introducing the award. "Students in the Two Harbors High School DECA program wanted to create awareness of the positive impact kindness can have on mental health."
The "Find the Kind" campaign was launched in January by the Two Harbors DECA chapter. The campaign encouraged individuals and groups to make an intentional act of kindness, then make a short video or photo post talking about it, while wearing the challenge's signature yellow glasses and using the hashtag "#findthekind."
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"I couldn't be more thankful for this opportunity," DECA student Riley Larson said upon receiving the award on behalf of the chapter. "Our main point was trying to improve people’s mental health through acts of kindness. We really strictly tried to tell people that. We just wanted to make a difference in any way we can."
The students brought the campaign into the schools through a series of visible efforts. They created a wall of kindness where students posted notes about the kindness they saw in others on a paper brick. They made “ kindness jars” for the teachers in the classrooms and when teachers saw kids doing small acts of kindness they thanked them and let them pick out a treat from the kindness jar.
Before heading to the capital in late January, the DECA students collected over 700 blankets in four days and brought them to the Dorothy Day Homeless Shelter in St. Paul.
In St. Paul, the students met with Gov. Tim Walz and helped him complete his challenge by handing out doughnuts to staff members.
The DECA students were also invited to host their own booth during TwinsFest at Target Field, an annual event for Minnesota Twins fans to meet past and current team players.
In the end, the campaign gained global attention, reaching over 2.5 million in 35 countries and received trademark requests for the campaign’s slogan “Find the Kind.”
"I’m super proud of our chapter," DECA adviser Janelle Jones said. "Every year, they step it up and do something fantastic that not only benefits their school, but our community. It’s something that they should be really proud of and I’m glad they got recognized for it."