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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Gosport students learn lessons of kindness, empathy

In one Owen County school, the elementary curriculum includes an emphasis on character.

GOSPORT, Ind. — Setting up our kids for success includes teaching and modeling soft skills, like empathy, kindness and forgiveness.

In Owen County, it’s a part of the curriculum, because being a Best You is a key link to learning.

At Gosport Elementary School, the students are lining up to learn what can be accomplished in a week.

The pre-K through sixth graders performed intentional acts of kindness, adding a paper link to their class chain to represent each act completed.

It is a competition and it motivated 150 students to initiate hundreds of kind acts.

"I picked up trash at school and I baked a cake for my grandma," one student told 13News.

Another student said he "picked up all the stuff from recess."

At this school, there is a concentrated curriculum on character: Thinking Beyond Yourself.

"People need help a lot in life, because people are not perfect," a student said.

Some of the lessons taught by student ambassadors — wearing purple that day — include leading peer-to-peer conversations about monthly topics, or lifelines. The most recent is empathy.

Credit: WTHR

"It's gone really good. Me and Emma, we teach kindergarten, and they're just so understanding and we have a lot of deep conversations because you don't know what type of homes they are in, and you want to be there for them," said one student ambassador.

"I think it's fantastic, too, because this is a really rough time," said sixth-grade teacher Shelly Roofe. "I mean, the world is just not a kind place these days and so for the kids to be able to acknowledge every little thing that happens to be kind, it's just great for them to seek out the good in people instead of seeking out the bad, which we see and hear a lot about these days."

Today, the kindness chain is long enough to wrap all around the playground.

Credit: WTHR

"Being kind makes good karma come your way," said a student.

The chain is a visual sign of their investment in emotional wellness, a key foundation for learning.

"I feel like if they have that inside of them and instilled in them, then the rest of the stuff will fall into place," Roofe said.