After the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in 2012, many across the United States were devastated. Dr. Ferial Pearson, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Education,had no answer when her kids asked her why anyone would want to shoot children. She did know, however, that she felt a calling to do something about it. From that calling, the Secret Kindness Agents was born.
“I needed to take control of something. I knew I couldn’t change what happened at Sandy Hook, I can’tchange what is happening across the world, but what if I could stop some bullying from happening in our school,” Pearson said.
Secret Kindness Agents is a project that was started to promote anonymous acts of kindness. The projectis in early elementary, upper elementary, middle school/junior high, high schooland university-level classrooms, Pearson said. Club members are anonymousand have code names to help them keep their identities a secret. When performing their anonymous acts of kindness, members go by their secret agent names to deflect any attention they may receive for their good deeds.
Pearson attributes the idea to an envelope she saw on Pinterest with a “Top Secret” stamp across the top. Initially,Pearson said, she wanted to make an envelope with anonymous acts of kindness in it and, if her students participated, she would give them a prize. She said she did not expect that her students would want to participate without receiving rewards.
“They said they had two things they wanted if we were going to do it. First, it had to be anonymous and they didn’t want a prize. It blew my mind because they were going home to empty fridges and pantries and they didn’t want a prize from me,” Pearson said. “Second, they said we had to do it as a class.”
Secret Kindness Agents has now been implemented in over 500 schools, nationally and internationally. Locally, Secret Kindness Agents has a club on the UNO campus. Recently, according to the Secret Kindness Agents newsletter, theagentsparticipated in the Tying Scarves and Things to Trees event at Midtown Crossing. During the event, Secret Kindness Agent members tied scarves, hats and gloves to trees, so those without winter clothing could take them for free.
Pearson travels to many schools in the Omaha area where she talks to students about the importance of anonymous acts of kindness.
Bret Bayse, a secret kindness agent and the principal at Thomas Elementary school in Gretna,said the Secret Kindness Agents has made its way though the halls of his school.
“Our SKAs have welcomed students in the morning with a smileand written anonymous notes with uplifting messages,” Bayse said. “Our students are starting to recognize that the simple act of being kindgoes a long way and not only helps the person they are being kind to, but it also has a huge impact on themselves and makes them happier inside as well.”