Several fifth graders will enter the activity gym this Wednesday, Nov. 7th, for a kindness retreat, led by the Youth Frontiers organization. Youth Frontiers is an organization that travels state to state, promoting kindness and empathy while preventing bullying. Senior Rachel Hrbek, along with other members of the Westside cheer squad, have experience helping out at the retreat.
“You basically go through all these activities that teach you about kindness,” Hrbek said. “You all sit in groups and you make like rain [as] you work as a group, you fill out all these worksheets, you play games, and you have dance parties. It was fun.”
Cheer coach Molly Seals sees the kindness retreat as a great way for the fifth graders to engage with others in the district their age before heading on to middle school.
“I know that it is helpful for a lot of the fifth graders because they get to meet other kids before going to middle school,” Seals said. “They learn a lot about team building and being kind and getting to know people. It’s kind of a cool thing, where they’re split up into groups and they might not know somebody else in that group and that’s kind of how it is in middle school- your groups are kind of split up because you have like ten elementary schools coming together.”
The cheerleaders help the kids stay on task during the retreat.
“As cheerleaders, we’re kinda like mentors, or floaters, who float through and help kids,” Hrbek said. “You get a group assigned to you- it’s kinda like outdoor ed. You help them read through these activity sheets about kindness.”
On top of helping making sure the day runs smoothly, the kindness retreat is also a way for the cheerleaders to act as role models for the elementary students.
“I think it’s a really positive thing to be a part of and for them [cheerleaders] to be role models,” Seals said. “I think for them to see these younger kids are like ‘oh wow this is a high school cheerleader that’s pretty cool’ and just to see them doing things about being kind and having manners and things like that. It impacts the cheerleaders as well to see that these kids look up to them. Plus it’s just a reminder that we all have to be kind and treat people the way they want to be treated.”
Seven of the Westside cheerleaders will be helping out at the retreat this Wednesday.