Photo by Chelsea Memmolo
Leaders of Milford School District’s kindness movement include (from left) advisors Su Chafin, Cami Morgan and Daikiri Villa, along with the now-graduated Chelsea Fitzgerald.
Su Chafin, a counselor at the Milford High School Wellness Center, calls students “Generation K”—for kindness. Chafin served as an advisor for the Milford School District’s inaugural Students for a Million Acts of Kindness (S.M.A.K.) movement that started during a conversation with students about combatting bullying. The result? Students from all district schools performed more than one million acts of kindness during a 10-month span that started in October 2013. The entire movement, including the schools’ staffs, surpassed the goal by almost 70,000 acts. Good deeds included everything from simply holding a door open for someone to staging bigger, community-wide volunteer projects. The idea is to help students focus on kindness, compassion and equality. Each of the high school’s clubs, such as Future Farmers of America, the Key Club and Leo Club, had a representative serve as a S.M.A.K. ambassador. The acts of kindness were tallied on a website. “How did we do it?” Chafin is often asked. “We listened to the kids. They speak from the heart.” She admits that not all students were on board and that students still experience typical high school issues. “Some kids dismissed it or thought it was a joke,” she says. “But some were really proud. The pride they had to lead a community was amazing to witness.” Now S.M.A.K wants to take the movement statewide. Organizers hope to kick off the next round at the beginning of 2015. No matter how many schools sign on, Chafin is certain that “Generation K” will accomplish great things. “The sky is the limit,” she says. “Just because they are young doesn’t mean they can’t change the world.”