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Central School club teaching empathy and kindness

Kolh Archambault and Mason Johnson work on their Central Care Club project at Yarmouth Central Elementary School. (Tina Comeau)
Kolh Archambault and Mason Johnson work on their Central Care Club project at Yarmouth Central Elementary School. (Tina Comeau)

School has ended for the day and yet a group of students are still so happy to be here inside a room at Yarmouth Central School.

There’s a lot of chatter inside the room by the elementary students and some pretty serious colouring with crayons happening.

“It’s pretty awesome and it’s fun,” says student Natalie McGray. “I like it here.”

‘Here’ is with other members of the Central Care Club — a club that has been created as part of the afterschool program at the school.

The motto of the club is “Because we care.”

And what the students care about are the feelings and well-being of others, and extending thanks when it is deserved.

“The club is to teach kids about empathy and to care about others,” explains Holly Hanf, the afterschool program leader.

Since the club was formed, the students have made sympathy cards for a teacher at the school who lost her dog and they’ve made get well cards for a teacher who was quite sick. They also made a ‘Welcome Home Mr. Purdy’ sign for their school principal who is returning to the school. They’ll also make thank you cards for Stephen Cullen, the interim principal who had been in the job.

“It really makes them feel good to help others out,” Hanf says. “I do lots of volunteer work so I told them, ‘you wouldn’t believe how good it feels to help other people.’”

It’s a message and a feeling the students are embracing.

“What we do here is we help people feel better,” says student Angelo McGray when asked about the club.

“We care for other people. When they’re down, we help them up,” says student Kohl Archambault. “I feel good. I feel energized.”

And it’s not just the students who feel good about the kindness they are spreading. Those on the receiving end feel pretty great about it, too.

Rosann Clairmont of Purolator Inc. sent a thank you letter to the club for the thank you cards they received from the club. The company had held a Back to School Cereal Challenge and donated cereal to Central School for its breakfast club.

“I want to let you and the children know how very much we appreciate the thoughtfulness and gratitude that went into the thank you cards we received in return,” Clairmont wrote in a letter to Hanf and the club. “It truly warmed my heart to reach each one ... You are a wonderful source of inspiration.”

Hanf says she hopes to see the initiative spread school-wide next year. And she also hopes as word spreads in the community it encourages others to be kind to one another.

The students, meanwhile, are happy about the role they are playing in the initiative.

“I feel really happy to be a part of the club,” says student Arihanna Young. “This is a time to be kind to other people when they have been really kind to us.”

That’s just the kind of message Hanf likes to hear, saying about the students. “I’m so proud of them.”

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