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Friday, February 23, 2024

KidsMatter 2 Us – Make kindness count this February

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Update, Feb. 15, 2024 / Naperville’s Collaborative Youth Team celebrates stories of kindness during visits to various locations February 14-20.

Fourth-grade students Claire, Philip and Ava, standing in front of kindergartners, were nominated for their acts of kindness by kindergarten teacher Joanna LaPerna at Prairie Elementary School. (Photo courtesy KidsMatter)

KidsMatter and the Collaborative Youth Team (CYT) are visiting several locations in Naperville the week of February 14-20 to celebrate those who have been nominated for their outstanding acts of kindness as part of the CYT’s Kindness Counts initiative.

In the Kindness Counts initiative, anyone in the community is invited to help shine a spotlight on individuals who have performed acts of kindness. Nominations may be submitted during the entire month of February at https://forms.gle/8VAnp3JN2MZ39ozk6

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The Collaborative Youth Team includes representatives from 36 organizations that support youth and families in our community.

The celebrations began on February 14 with the recognition of three fourth-grade students at Prairie Elementary School who assist kindergarten students in the classroom for 15 minutes each day. They take the initiative to help in thoughtful ways, even making birthday cards for the children.

Next, Anita Knotts was honored for the unconditional, inclusive kindness she shows through her role with the Women in Business group that is part of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. The third celebration recognized Maureen Dvorak with Naperville Community Unit School District 203 for her kindness in welcoming new families to the District.

“We look forward to celebrating more stories of kindness this week” said Nina Menis, CEO and executive director of KidsMatter. “Each person nominated has touched so many lives without realizing it.”

Original Post, Feb. 5, 2024 / Did you know that kindness benefits not only the recipient, but also the giver? The American Psychiatric Association (2023) says that the mental health benefits of committing random acts of kindness extend far beyond the moment, alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety, reducing stress, and boosting overall happiness and self-esteem – and that’s just in the giver! Researchers from the University of Ohio found that “Acts of kindness may more effectively improve social connection and related dimensions of well-being than prevailing cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.”

The effects of kindness are indeed powerful. While we often underestimate the value of a small gift or service to others, researchers have found that the receiver places greater value on the act because of the warmth of the gesture and the positive social interaction. What may seem inconsequential to the giver may have a profound effect on the well-being of the receiver.

But the best part of kindness is that it is contagious. According to research, people who receive kindness are more likely to be generous themselves, resulting in a ripple effect of kindness within a community.

February is National Random Acts of Kindness Month, a perfect time to practice compassion and engage in the acts of kindness and service that make our community so special.

KidsMatter and the Collaborative Youth Team, in partnership with Angelic Kindness and the City of Naperville, are holding a Random Acts of Kindness Initiative during the week of February 14-20, 2024. Residents are encouraged to nominate extraordinary people and their acts of kindness so that they may be celebrated during this week on the KidsMatter website and within the community.

Nomination forms may be found at forms.gle/8VAnp3JN2MZ39ozk6.

The Collaborative Youth Team (CYT) is supported by KidsMatter and is comprised of 36 organizations that serve youth in our community. The CYT’s goal is to develop community-wide strategic plans that will be used to increase awareness, stimulate discussion, and facilitate action to improve the health and well-being of children, youth, and families.

For more information about this special Kindness Counts week-long celebration, visit kidsmatter2us.org/kindnesscounts.

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Nina Menis
Nina Menis
Nina M. Menis serves as CEO & Executive Director of KidsMatter. Nina grew up in Naperville and enjoyed raising a family in Naperville. Nina has worked in advancement for both public and private P-20 educational institutions and area nonprofits for more than 30 years. Contact Nina (pronounced nine-eh) at nina@kidsmatter2us.org or (630) 864-3974.

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