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Pay it forward initiative stamps out bullying

Photo credit: Sara Miller of the Port Orchard Independent


Kindness posters encourage compassionate acts throughout the school

The movie Pay It Forward – directed by Mimi Leder in 2000 – tells the story of 11-year-old Trevor McKinney, whose social studies assignment leads to an unexpected wave of random acts of human kindness that spreads throughout the US.

An IB Candidate School in Washington has brought this story to life.

Hidden Creek Elementary School’s mission to prevent bullying and promote compassion encourages students to ‘pay forward’ – as opposed to paying back – acts of kindness. This means that if someone does you a favour, you must in turn do a favour for someone else. It has led to a school-wide movement, affecting over 500 students.

Students were inquiring into a PYP unit on ‘social movements’, and when unkind notes were being passed around the classroom, which caused some upset, students decided to initiate their own movement to put a stop to it.

Photo credit : Sara Miller of the Port Orchard Independent

Kindness posters proudly displayed around the school now encourage students to share acts of compassion they have received. Students document their experience on a sticky note, and take a card that suggests an act of kindness they can then ‘pay forward’.

PYP teacher Jessica Carithers explains: “We decided to have a morning meeting to encourage students to discuss how they felt about the notes, and how we can fix this problem. Once the students discussed possible ways for the whole school to be involved they came up with the kindness assembly and posters.”

A school assembly further highlighted the importance of kindness and compassion.

The initiative has been effective. Carithers adds: “The assembly and posters allowed students to realize kindness goes a long way. We should pass on the acts of kindness.”

Negative notes have transformed into positive messages as another PYP class is planning a “positive notes on lockers” campaign to inspire students to work hard.

This article is part of a series of stories from IB World magazine that bring to life the wonderful initiatives undertaken by IB students and educators from around the globe. Follow these stories on Twitter @IBorganization #IBcommunitystories. Share your great stories and experiences: email