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SevenDays helps students, teachers learn, share kindness

Kindness in classrooms
Posted at 4:00 PM, Apr 12, 2024

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Saturday marks 10 years since a gunman shot and killed three people at two Jewish facilities in our area.

This tragedy took the lives of Reat Underwood, William Corporon and Terri LaManno. But through this, one of Kansas City’s strongest and kindest groups was created.

Mindy Corporon is Reat’s mother and William’s daughter. She created SevenDays, which stands today as a group that promotes kindness across the Kansas City area. SevenDays awards scholarships, hosts a button-making competition, offers classroom curriculums, cultivates conversation, promotes education and so much more, all in the name of kindness.

Through SevenDays, our community continues to honor these lives lost 10 years later by learning from the past, while also shaping our future: moving from hatred to kindness.

Most elementary to high school-aged students were young or not-yet-born when this tragedy struck 10 years ago. But it’s impacted their educations in ways textbooks can’t teach.

“It is a really interesting thing to work for an organization that started from such a hateful act but created such a positive movement,” Jill Andersen said.

Jill Andersen is the SevenDays director of youth engagement. She’s one of the people who helps bring kindness-based curriculums and resources into schools and classrooms.

“We have to touch on that reason why when we are doing whatever we’re doing,” Andersen said. “It’s really hard to talk a little bit about where we came from and then be able to switch over to what we’re trying to do.”

It’s a balance between what happened and what’s ahead. The goal is for students to equally be able to recognize hate and replace it with kindness.

“Reat Underwood was one of my fourth graders,” Kala Pelate said. “He was the best. Funny, witty, empathetic.”

Pelate is now a Blue River Elementary School counselor.

“He was big into music, so he and another student actually played the cello and violin at my wedding,” she said. “So we stayed connected through the years.”

Ten years later, she continues to help her students understand what happened through kindness lessons. It hits closer to home for her.

“I think the beauty of what SevenDays has done is they’ve taken different words that have different meanings and you’re able to attach the age-appropriate lessons to that,” she said.

She inspires them to create change through activities and dialogues. If you step inside her classrooms, you’ll find her students coloring pictures and complimenting each other, learning about kindness and creating conversation as they grow to understand the tragedies of the past.

“The kids really can kind of take lead and come up with ideas, lessons, activities that they feel empowered to share kindness,” she said.

Her students, like the rest of the world, know how to spot hate. But they know how to spot kindness, too. And those are the building blocks that created SevenDays.

“Kindness means to me…showing more compassion, caring, loving,” two of Kala’s fifth graders, Annabelle and Melanie, said.

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