“This next generation of kids wants nothing but greatness and kindness and acceptance for everybody.” — Maggie Solberg, Boys & Girls Club director and alumni
It all started when Club kids got caught — for being kind. Staff at the Boys & Girls Club of West Salem noticed kids were doing good deeds around the Club without being asked. That’s when staff knew they were onto something when they decided to create a kindness castle.
Every time a Club kid did something kind, such as cleaning up around the Club or complimenting someone, they received a kindness slip. The goal? To fill a kindness castle staff had designed on a Club wall with their slips. When the castle was complete, the kids would earn a party. “It took off, and we realized these kids love doing kind things and being recognized for it,” said Club Director and former Club kid Maggie Solberg.
After doing so many acts of kindness, the Club kids in West Salem decided to start an official Kindness Club — a group of young people dedicated to promoting kindness through acts of service.
The Kindness Club at the Boys & Girls Club of West Salem immediately started giving back. The group rallied to host lemonade stands and bake sales to help purchase new items for the Club. So far, they’ve raised enough money to buy a parachute and bowling equipment for all Club kids to use to promote teamwork and physical activity. “Our kids take a lot of pride in being able to give back to their Club,” Maggie said.
Kindness Club members also work hard to spread positivity within their schools. The Boys & Girls Club of West Salem is located inside West Salem Middle School and is open to all kids in kindergarten through 12th grade who attend schools in the community. “We pride ourselves on the relationship we have with the school district,” Maggie said. The Kindness Club makes cards for school staff and designs posters and signage to display in the school. “The kids’ posters often include messaging about how much they love the Club and positive affirmations — it’s really special.”
But the Kindness Club’s impact extends beyond the Boys & Girls Club doors as kids give back to the greater West Salem community. They’ve helped rake leaves for neighbors who can’t do it themselves and coordinated community clean-up days to help beautify the town. Throughout the pandemic, they created first-aid kits and wrote notes of encouragement to senior citizens in nursing homes.
For their latest project, the Club made kindness rocks with feel-good messages and placed them throughout town as a reminder to all that kindness is universal. “These kids are living examples of how much better the world can be when we’re all kind to one another — it’s a humbling reminder for adults. When you treat others with kindness, things only get better,” said Maggie.
Did you know? When making a decision, 85% of Club youth say they try to think about how other people will be affected.
One of the most important things to point out about the Kindness Club is that it’s kid-led. Each week, members discuss how they want to help their community or Club and work as a team to execute their plans.
The Boys & Girls Club staff sees the real-life impact the Kindness Club has every day. “We have older kids here who will say they want to spend their day with the younger kids and help them,” said Maggie. “I see their compassion and kindness because of how someone impacted them at one point in their lives — now it’s their turn to pay it forward.”
With kids incorporating kindness into their day, Maggie explained that it gives her hope for the future. “This next generation of kids wants nothing but greatness and kindness and acceptance for everybody. I can’t wait to see what the future looks like because of all these bright, beautiful minds on the job.”
From navigating challenging situations with resilience and learning how to have constructive conversations to cultivating a sense of belonging and acceptance, Boys & Girls Clubs model kindness to create compassionate, conscientious kids who grow up with the character and confidence to change our communities for the better. And now, you can, too.
Join Boys & Girls Clubs of America for a 30-Day Kindness Challenge by committing to do one simple act of kindness every day during September.
Once you register, you’ll receive a downloadable daily calendar with one simple act of kindness to complete each day. Plus, you’ll receive a FREE kindness sticker designed by artist and Club alumni, Danielle Coke, to remind you that when you do good and share kindness, your impact sticks around.
Here’s how to get started: