Kindness matters! At least, that’s what Rebekah Robeck and her friends at Costa Mesa Middle and High Schools think. City of Kindness connected with Rebekah to hear about her story and learn how she’s spreading kindness among her peers.
Last year, Rebekah noticed that kids at her school weren’t being kind to each other and felt like she needed to take action. It wasn’t bullying that she noticed, but an overall lack of kindness. Simple gestures didn’t exist anymore, like helping classmates pick up dropped papers, holding doors open for someone with their hands full or even choosing kind words instead of negative words. Some brainstorming with her mom helped her come up with a plan, and Rebekah’s kindness movement was born.
Rebekah knows a lot about kindness and how it can change someone’s life, having experienced it first hand when she lived in El Salvador. Her father moved their family there while he ran a study abroad program through a church in the area. She was having a hard time adjusting and wasn’t feeling connected to the community. The Worship Leader at their church took notice, and helped Rebekah embrace her love of music to become part of the community. He encouraged her join the church worship choir and even gave her free guitar lessons to help her find a deeper connection to her love of music. Additionally, members of the church knew that she and her brother were having a hard time adjusting and would bring them small gifts or send care packages with reminders of home like parmesan cheese, girl scout cookies or Hostess treats. It was those acts of kindness that showed Rebekah that she was cared for and thought about, and that fueled her desire to be kind to others.
To bring kindness to her school, Rebekah enlisted her friends to help. The group passed out pizza on campus with kind messages on the boxes encouraging students to be kind to each other. The pizza was just the beginning. Rebekah had an idea and met with school administration to start the first Let’s Be Kind day. She and her mom designed a logo and held a fundraiser to have T-shirts designed for the entire school. Rebekah and her friends passed out the T-shirts, and every student received one. Having everyone in the same T-shirt that said “Let’s Be Kind” invoked a sense of community. Rebekah says it’s a call for everyone to be kind, together, as a collective group. It’s kindness to each other as students, kindness to school staff and kindness to others throughout the community. She loved hearing the conversations on campus the T-shirts inspired, about being kinder to one another and how the school could cultivate a kinder environment.
It’s been a year since the first Let’s Be Kind day launched and it’s time for another schoolwide kindness push! Rebekah rallied a team of 18 friends to help her carry out this year’s event, which was held on April 25. She even worked with a professional designer to surprise the students at Costa Mesa High School with special T-shirts made just for the school. Next, she’s meeting with the principals of all the schools in the district and spearheading the tee initiative to be part of all schools regardless of the school’s finances. Her church has helped her set up an account to monitor and show accountability for funds raised until Rebekah and her mom are able to form their own nonprofit to keep track of funds, create T-shirts, organize Let’s Be Kind day on campus and continue to spread kindness. In the future, Rebekah sees Let’s Be Kind day on a much larger scale, as its own nonprofit and looking to reinforce her message of kindness with students throughout her district, the county and then perhaps with even more schools and students.
Do you love Rebekah’s drive to make her school a kinder place? You can help her provide T-shirts to schools in her community through her fundraiser, or you can learn more about bringing Let’s Be Kind day to your school.
We hope this inspires you to make kindness contagious in your life, whether that’s at school, work or at home – every act counts.