A safe, respectful environment is where learning thrives and students can achieve their full academic potential. Irvington Community Elementary School (ICES) strives to maintain a culture of respect and inclusion for all students — which is The Irvington Way! To that end, ICES students receive character education lessons on Respect and Responsibility in August and September, followed by lessons on Safety in October where the theme of bullying awareness and prevention is introduced.

An SHA educator and 3rd graders in Mrs. Barnes’ class discuss ways to create a culture of kindness

As we focus on Compassion during the month of February, we are hosting educators from the Social Health Association (SHA) of Indiana to present Step Up for Kindness™. Step Up for Kindness™ is provided free of charge to ICES as well as other schools throughout Indiana to empower children to help create and maintain a bullying-free environment. K-3rd sessions are 30 minutes long and 4th and 5th are 45 minutes long. Step Up is two-day program, so every classroom will host SHA twice – each session one week apart.

The SHA curriculum teaches kindness, empathy, compassion, and skills to prevent, identify and address bullying. Primary students learn the “Golden Rule,” how to be a good friend, and how to use empathy to aid their understanding of conflict and bullying. Upper elementary students learn how to identify different forms of bullying (which includes physical, verbal, social and cyber bullying), steps to take to diffuse bullying, and how to report if they are bullied or witness bullying. Each class is left with a poster to serve as a class reminder of what it means to be KIND: Know each other, Include each other, No bullying, and Do the right thing.

This is the second consecutive year that ICES 3rd – 5th grades have had the privilege of hosting the SHA educators and the Step Up program. This year, offerings were expanded to include all grade levels. By educating our students about the harmful effects of bullying behaviors, and replacing them with kind words and actions, the culture of respect and inclusion we all desire is established.

For more information about Step Up for Kindness™, click here or contact ICES Counselor Marsha Hart.