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TOTALLY EAST TEXAS: Van ISD creates a culture of kindness through #WednesdayWisdom

Kindness, through the eyes of a child, is shared weekly at Van ISD. It's a program that allows students to share a dose of kindness and then see the ripple effects.

VAN, Texas — In a world where there's so much division, it's refreshing to see kindness being shared. That's happening in Van through their Wednesday Wisdom initiative. It's a hashtag that's popular on social media. 

Van ISD expanded on that by having students share what kindness means to them.

"It says Choose Kindness in the world," explained Carter Carson, Van ISD second grader.

"Kindness can go a long ways," Deanna Hartman, Van ISD high school student, said of her drawing. 

"Hate no one, no matter how they've wronged you, how wealthy you've become. Think positively, no matter how hard life is. Give much, even if you've been given little. Forgive all, especially yourself and never stop praying for the best for everyone," said Raylee Campos, Van ISD 7th grader.

Kindness, such a simple concept and delivered so eloquently by the young East Texans.

Yet, we hear all the time that we need more of it in the world. In Van, they're doing what they can on that front. You will find a culture of kindness being instilled early on in their schools.

"We thought, it would be great for the Wednesday Wisdom to come from our students," said Lynsey Admire with Van ISD. "We get to see what kindness means to them. How they verbalize it and then share it with others and it's spread." 

You can see it every Wednesday by logging on to the district's Facebook page. You can find student's artwork, showing what kindness looks like to them along with a quote or saying.

"The community loves it. They love seeing the kid's artwork and their thoughts on wisdom versus quotes they may have already heard before," said Admire.

It all starts at the beginning of the year. Students — elementary, middle and high school participate, including Deanna Hartman. "I have one person who is on the ground and the other person is helping them up," describes Hartman of her Wednesday Wisdom artwork. "I think it's important because you are supposed to treat others the way you want to be treated. You know, if someone wants kindness, you just have to be kind." 

The principals choose seven students to represent their campus for the Wednesday Wisdom contest. Raylee Campos is one of those middle school students chosen. She believes the uplifting messages shared by her fellow classmates can make a big impact.

"I feel like the more stuff that's around, the better it is because it's more inspiration for everyone else," said Campos.

Not only do the students see the vivid images of kindness weekly on Facebook, but it's also prominently displayed through the halls on video message boards as a constant reminder of how a little kindness can brighten up someone's day. "When you talk about something weekly, it comes up weekly and it's a good reminder and helps keep it in the forefront of your mind where it's not just something you touch on once a year," said Admire.

It's not just the Wednesday Wisdom art that's inspiring the Van community to choose kindness. Each one of the classrooms is equipped with one of "Choose Kindness" signs that were actually donated by the community. "We all need more kindness in the world. We all need things that are encouraging rather than discouraging. Putting this out there for our community to see and in the heads of our students, it helps put it in the forefront of our community. Hopefully, it translates to a bigger effect than just our school," said Admire.

"All I really did is like for the word, "world", for the "O" it's earth. For "the", it's the cross for Jesus," explained Carter.

Even the youngest artists like Carson Carter, with just five words and a little help from dad, can spark us all to "Choose Kindness in the World."