KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For its second year in a row, the SevenDays annual week-long event will be held virtually next April, due to the pandemic.
While April is still a few months away, leaders work year-round to make it an effective and meaningful event.
Students also help take part in organizing events and sessions. Rajitha Velakaturi is one of them.
"A lot of times, what we're working on is the logistics of planning an event, securing a location," Velakaturi said. "We're probably going to be doing all online events so that kind of interaction is important with our planning committees for each event and our supporting committees. We really work together as a team and each person has a different piece of the puzzle that once we put them all together, we have a really amazing event that we come out with."
Velakaturi is also a high school senior at Notre Dame De Sion. And as she finishes up her last year, she said this year has been quite interesting.
"Definitely one for the history books," Velakaturi said. "But I think that having some of these experiences and dealing with the adversity of having to go to online school and having to deal with, like, you know, losing some of those traditions through senior year, is something that will make me appreciate all the times when we can actually hang out together and be together as a community."
Velakaturi, who's a part of the Kindness Youth leadership Team, said SevenDays is a chance to celebrate differences and come together.
"It's really important that SevenDays is doing this because it helps us be stronger, both mentally and as a community to grow and to learn about how to be kinder people," she said. "It's important to acknowledge that, you know, sometimes we do have some shortcomings and things that we need to work on. But it's that we acknowledge it and work to move forward and work to better ourselves. And I think that SevenDays really works to help people come to terms with the fact that there's some things that we can do better, but we can do it better together."
Each day of the SevenDays event has a word associated with it. Velakaturi is co-chair of "Others" day.
"That's the day when we focus on how can we be more kind to others," Velakaturi explained. "So, people that have experienced discrimination or bullying or just had adversity they faced, and how to be able to walk in their shoes and understand their experiences."
SevenDays Director Jill Andersen said this year highlights how important it is to spread more kindness.
"SevenDays' mission is to bring kindness to people through knowledge mindset and behaviors, and we really take that seriously," Andersen said. "How do we educate people that discovering diversity is a good thing? Because we all have biases, we all have those thoughts. So how do we, like Raj was saying earlier, how do we understand that those exist, and then try to work together to become more compassionate."
Andersen said while the annual event is in April, being kind isn't just a week-long ordeal.
"One of the things that we've said is our 'SevenDays' events are seven days, but it takes 365 days a year to be kind," Andersen said. "It's not a habit that can be formed in only seven days, that gets you started, that gets you thinking about it. So if we only thought about kindness in April, then what happens the other 11 months of the year? So it really is a year-long process and we do things, all year long."
For Velakaturi, she said the events prepare her for life after high school.
"For me as a senior, I'm applying to colleges and thinking about where I want to go," she said. "It's important to me that I'm going somewhere that has a reputation for being an inclusive place, a kind place, but also a place where I can have conversations with people about their truths and their ideas and be respectful. "
For more information on SevenDays, visit the event website.
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