OUR VIEW: Kindness makes horrific days more bearable

We all know 17 people were murdered on Wednesday by an orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle.

The coming days will be filled with stories of tragedy and loss and questions and debates on guns and mental health and all the same things that we debate each time a troubled soul ends the lives of the innocent.

But there is some hope in our world — as stories of heroes emerge like that of assistant coach Aaron Feis who died shielding students from the gunman. “He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories,” a tweet on Thursday detailed.

It’s hard to watch the students flee the school and know that their lives are forever altered by a Valentine’s Day massacre at their high school.

We look to what one Ector County Independent School District counselor is doing to tackle something that might go a long way to ease our hearts.


A simple matter.

Buice Elementary School counselor Christie Shefchik formed the idea of having the Kindness Olympics during this week of Valentine’s and Olympics

As tragedy was unfolding in Florida, in Odessa all 650 of the campus’s kindergarten through fifth-grade students went through six stations that ranged from writing kind messages on a hand-shaped piece of paper and taping it to someone’s back to the circle of kindness, a game of musical chairs where when you are out, you are complimented.

The idea, said Shefchik, was to spread kindness and teach the students how to be kind to each other.

“This is basically their extended family, their home away from home,” Shefchik said. “We want to lift each other up and not bring each other down.”

What a great plan that Shefchik has hatched. She said activities in the gym included the web of kindness, kindness bookmarks that were hidden in library books and spoonful of kindness and kindness charades.

Shefchik said she hopes this will be the inaugural Kindness Olympics.

“They don’t get medals. They get the enjoyment and experience of practicing some kindness,” Shefchik said.

Students enjoyed the event and Shefchik said it is part of character education and that it reminds students it is their job to lit each other up and not bring each other down.

“At the elementary age, we’re trying to build that character before they get to the middle school and high school ages when severe bullying and stuff like that starts,” Shefchik said.

What a worthy goal and especially during this troubling time.

We salute Shefchik and everyone who competed and helped with the Kindness Olympics. The world needs more educators like her and more schools willing to try to influence both character and kindness.