To make someone’s day, all it takes sometimes is a simple hello. That was Madison County’s goal this week, as it hosted the third annual “Start with hello” campaign.
As part of their “Start with Hello” campaign, students and community members went to different schools to start everyone’s day off with a morning greeting.
“They kids love it,” Sarah Crawford, a student council member at Madison High School, said. “They’re all over us and always giving us high fives, and loving it. I think its just a good way to start peoples day off.”
They use this week to help promote social inclusion at school.
“I’ve had one kid one day come up to me and say what can I do to help I wanna help,” Amber Storm, a Care Coordinator at Madison Cares, said. “So that was a perfect opportunity to tell them go say hello to as many people as you can, make a new friend. If you see someone sitting alone, go sit with them.”
Starting back in 2016, the nationwide campaign was created by the Sandy Hook Promise, to “bring attention to the growing epidemic of social isolation” and “create a culture of inclusion and connectedness,” according to their website.
“One single interaction, one single word can change the course, not just of a kids day, but a child’s life,” said Jessica Goudy, the Communication Coordinator for Madison County School District and Madison Cares.
With events like the morning greeting and giving out stickers for random acts of kindness, it seems to be working- and not just on the kids.
“It’s always just super fun to go say hi to the little kids, they always make my day,” Crawford said. “I’m supposed to make their day but they always make my day.”
“Getting to see the kids get a smile on their face, if they look sad and hand them a sticker,” Storm said. “They just get excited.”
The week capped off with National No One Eats Alone Day, where high school and college students visited elementary schools to eat with kids.
“I’ve talked about sports that they played, during the spring time. Talked about what I did when I was here 10 years ago going to elementary school,” Matthew Snelgrove, a sophomore at Madison High School, said. “Just having fun with them. Getting to know them.”
And it encouraged the elementary kids to branch out and meet new people.
“Normally, I’m sitting alone at lunch tables and nobody wants to be around me, run away scared,” Anthony, an elementary school student, said. “Can’t figure out why. So “Start with Hello” has really got them to be nice and it also gotten me to be nicer than I normally am.”
As the week comes to a close, Madison County hopes to continue the trend of inclusiveness and connecting with one another.
“Continuing the message forward that each of us is an individual that has a story that need to be watched out for,” Shane Williams, the Principal at Kennedy Elementary School, said. “By teaching our students to be kind, and reaching out to others will only help with that.”
“Being kind to everyone is key in my life,” said Snelgrove.
“Start with hello, not just today, not just this week but everyday,” said Goudy.
Businesses around Madison County also participated in the campaign by putting up posters and table toppers, that had questions to break the ice, start conversations, and get people to know those around them.