Middle school can be rough. The onset of puberty. The social pecking order. The insecurity of changing social norms and alliances. And that was all before social media. Now everyone can judge how you dance on TikTok or how many likes you’ve got on Instagram. Put a global pandemic in the mix, and middle school can turn into a full-blown nightmare.
But what if, just as kids were entering those critical years of development, we intervened? What if we taught students to appreciate themselves and others? What if no one got bullied but instead got showered with love?
That’s what Ms.L tried to do with her 6th grade class using the GiveThx program. Every week, Ms.L would pick one or two students to receive a “love bomb.” On that day, one student would receive a Thx Note from every student in the class. This one simple act made a huge difference.
Amber, a 6th grader in Ms. L’s class, said that love bombs changed her.
“I felt good about myself. I loved giving Thx Notes even more than getting them.”
The love bombs helped Amber make new friends. During the pandemic, there was a new student who joined the class named Ian.
“I felt bad for him because he didn’t know anyone. When Ms.L told us to drop him a love bomb, it felt nice to acknowledge him and for him to feel acknowledged.”
Now that school is back to in-person, Ian and Amber regularly play football. “GiveThx is where our friendship started,” she said.
GiveThx also helped Amber mend broken relationships, including a friendship she had with her close friend Sarah. Amber and Sarah had gotten into a fight earlier in the year and were no longer talking to one another.
“The love bomb that stuck out to me the most was when Sarah asked if we could start our friendship again. That meant a lot. Maybe she thought that a love bomb would be a perfect time to fix our friendship, because she didn’t know another way to do it.”
Amber shared that GiveThx was helpful during the pandemic when she felt sad or lonely. It not only strengthened her mental health, but also her school performance.
“Even though I felt like giving up, I would remember that someone told me they were proud of me, and they knew I could do it.”
Reflecting on the impact of GiveThx, Amber says the biggest thing she’s learned is that being kind to one person rubs off.
“I’ve been kinder to people because of the program. It helps you understand others, both in school and out. It feels nice knowing that what you say to someone could last a lifetime.”
The effects of GiveThx extend beyond the classroom walls. Students bring gratitude home. Healthier schools make healthier communities. More empathic students make more empathic citizens. That benefits us all.
As we head into the new year, we’re asking you to consider making an investment in the next generation. More importantly, we’re asking you to make an investment in our communities, and our social fabric. Please make a gift today.