St. Charles, Illinois resident Aria Novak was once chosen by the Huffington Post as its “Greatest Person of the Day” when she was only in fifth grade. It was an honor that recognizes certain people who confront issues in their community with creativity and passion.
Why was she bestowed this honor? Because when a bully decided to give her a hard time, she decided kindness would get her farther than fighting back.
Back in fifth grade, Novak was bullied by a classmate on the school bus. According to an interview Novak had with St. Charles Patch, “she was doing a joke to me, and it wasn’t funny at all.”
But the bullying wasn’t limited to her, as she witnessed other children enduring similar taunts all day long. And because of this, she came up with an idea.
Now well into her teens, Novak has discovered a way to fight against bullying by encouraging school districts to recognize ‘Time For Kind Day’. And Wild Rose school eventually became the pioneer for others to follow.
Her vision with the campaign was to develop a “really cool” day, where everyone could just be nice to each other.
“What our class did was we took paper and we wrote our names,” Novak said. “Then, we passed it around the class and each person had to write something on that person’s name.”
Novak said the students then took their pieces of paper, covered in kind, handwritten remarks, home with them.
Novak’s idea has now become part of the school’s culture. And her open invitation to kindness continues to encourage several students to apologize to others for their bullying.
“What Aria has started has become more of a theme of how we need to be as adults, and how we need to be as students, here and beyond,” said Wild Rose Principal Donna Clavelli.
But the kindness campaign didn’t stop at in the hallways of Wild Rose. The entire school district has now adopted this policy. And students even began attending town hall meetings where stories are read about kindness and respect.
“Her idea is to me a theme-setter,” Clavelli said. “It’s bigger than just bullying prevention.
Aria continues to encourage other school districts with her anti-bullying initiative. She has even reached out to first lady Michelle Obama and several television personalities in an attempt to get more promotion and spread the word.
“I think this is a really great opportunity,” Aria said. “It helps kids through harder times and, if they have a problem or something, they can tell a trusted adult.”