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Parents and educators in Kelowna are hoping an innovative new program that promotes and celebrates friendship will boost their children’s social development and raise money for school resources.
Beginning Monday, the more than 230 kindergarten to grade seven students at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School became the first in British Columbia to pilot test the Just Be Friends A Million Acts of Friendship campaign, which rewards healthy behaviors and positive acts of friendship.
The program, which is being offered at no cost to participating schools, supports an increased focus on the value of friendship, and is designed to help promote positive behavior in the classroom and on the playground.
St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School principal Lynn Fleck and student friendship ambassadors (from left) , Anthony Gonschorek, Hannah Flynn,Ben Misfeldt, and Trinity Alexander and pose with their school's A Million Acts of Friendship banner
Students undertake weekly challenges in order to earn special friendship badges. When the students earn enough badges and reach A Million Acts of Friendship the school is rewarded with a wish list item identified by the school.
“One goal of A Million Acts of Friendship is to ease the burden of decreased public funding to schools that so often sits on the shoulders of parents,” says program director Ginger Braaten. “If we can get kids excited about spreading friendship and positivity at school, and, at the same time, provide their school a much-needed resource or piece of equipment, the entire community wins!”
“We’re thrilled to partner with Just Be Friends in launching A Million Acts of Friendship in Kelowna,” says St. Joseph principal Lynn Fleck. “We are committed to creating a safe, caring school environment, and are confident our students will benefit from promoting and recognizing acts of friendship.”
A Million Acts of Friendship has already received approval from the Regina Public School Division, and is being pilot tested in two schools there.
Just Be Friends (jbfkids.com) is a Kelowna-based, interactive, social education platform that helps families and children connect, with each other and with their community.
“Research indicates children and families are increasingly affected by negative social behaviors, particularly online. At the same time, many families feel disconnected from their community and are worried they don’t have the tools to take responsibility for their children’s social education and development,” says Just Be Friends founder Janice Taylor. “We wanted to offer a creative, social solution that connects families and builds community.”
On Just Be Friends, parents create a detailed family profile and get matched up with other families where they live. Whether a family is new to town or just looking to connect with other like-minded parents and kids, Just Be Friends can help.
Just Be Friends is currently being beta tested, and needs help from local parents to ensure everything is working and the website meets the needs of real families. To learn more about A Million Acts of Friendship, and to register free for the Just Be Friends beta test, visit jbfkids.com.
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