By: Sharon Aron Baron
In keeping with this year’s theme of being nice, students at Park Trails Elementary School in Parkland have made a pledge to be nice everyday thanks to a national program shared by one mother.
Last Friday, students at Park Trails made a pledge that they will be nice and signed banners with their first names. Mom Amy Nickolopoulos said the “Choose To Be Nice” program promotes this mission through nine important values that helps students with the changes and challenges in life: respect, kindness, acceptance, teamwork, honesty, responsibility, friendship, patience and courage.
“They signed our two large banners that will be proudly displayed in our school and received a bracelet as a reminder of the promise they made,” said Nickolopoulos. “Park Trails has always been a school dedicated to being nice to others but we are now taking it to new heights. We are so excited to be the first “Choose To Be Nice” school in Florida.”
About a year ago, Nickolopoulos saw a “Choose To Be Nice” t-shirt and liked the message so much, she purchased one. After receiving it, she wanted to learn more about the company and the message behind it and found the website.
“I was instantly connected to it and wanted to get involved,” she said.
Founded by Dina Creiger, “Choose To Be Nice” is a movement asking students and families to think about their interactions with others on a daily basis, and strive to make them better. Creiger had experienced bullying in elementary school, as well as some “not so great” bosses over the years in her professional career that stuck with her throughout her life. She had always had a passion for kindness and wanted to do something, but didn’t know where to start.
In 2013, while driving, she heard the report of the Boston Marathon bombing. That was the moment that propelled her forward to do something positive in her community. She quit her corporate job and began the “Choose To Be Nice” program with a small product line with that simple message. She then added a program for elementary schools that wanted to bring this culture of kindness to their schools and into the homes of families in the community.
When Nickolopoulos’ daughter began kindergarten at Park Trails Elementary in August, she told her friend and PTA treasurer Deanna Russo about the program. Russo loved it along with Principal McCanna, the administration and PTA who all agreed that the program was a great complement to the “Be Nice” theme of the school.
“To have a theme is one thing,” said Russo, “To actually do something with that theme when you actually put it into place…and get the kids to take a pledge, it’s an easy reminder for them.”
Nickolopoulos said she feels grateful to be part of a school that sees the importance of instilling this message in their students.
“The more we think about how we treat each other on a daily basis and make those interactions nicer, the more others might just follow and do the same. I can’t think of a better more impactful lesson we can teach or learn.”
SOURCE: Sharon Aron Baron