District 91 celebrated Kindness Week from April 26 to 30. | Photo provided

The theme of Forest Park’s elementary school District 91 Kindness Week this year was “Kindness is Contagious,” referencing the pandemic that’s affected all aspects of life but making it clear that the sense of community within the schools and village isn’t going anywhere.

Because of the pandemic, Project Kindness was a little different this year, but the school district found ways to spread the sentiment within the schools and throughout the community. As in past years, the village council voted to issue a proclamation declaring Kindness Week within Forest Park; this year it was from April 26-30.

In previous years, students designed labels that were distributed to businesses, which in turn distributed them to customers. But because of the pandemic, this year “Kindness Kits” were handed out to students who are attending in-person and available for pickup for kids doing remote-only learning. Each kit contained a poster template and colored chalk, and students were encouraged to write messages of kindness on the sidewalk in front of their homes.

D91 teachers and students stand next to a Kindness Week banner.. | Photo provided

Local businesses weren’t left out; they received posters to display in their windows.

Kindness Week, which was first celebrated in town in Feb. 2019, was originated in Forest Park by Betsy Ross teacher Amy O’Connell. She’d seen the idea of Project Kindness on Instagram, a project in which students designed labels with sentiments related to kindness including “Smile” and “Have a great day.” The labels were printed and distributed to local businesses, which shared them with customers.