FGCU students, 1st graders learn together about kindness

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jackie Winchester

Students at Florida Gulf Coast University are teaching a younger generation about kindness, compassion and empathy.

You probably wouldn’t think there’s any subject college students and first graders could learn together, but it turns out, there is, and WINK News got to witness it.

“We’re spreading kindness and compassion and empathy,” said Julianna Griffin, who teaches a class at FGCU called “Understanding Kindness, Compassion and Empathy.”

“I hope this program one day makes my students kinder, more compassionate, and more empathetic citizens,” said Colleen Bowman, a first grade teacher at San Carlos Park Elementary.

Every Thursday, their two classes meet over Zoom, and on this particular Thursday, the students gave a joint “presentation” of sorts.

The FGCU students donated books to foster children, books that Bowman’s class picked out.

Bowman’s class donated teddy bears to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, which will give the bears to children at crime scenes or crashes.

Jessie Santero, Lee County Sheriff’s Office

So, if you think there isn’t a subject that college students and first graders can learn together, you’d be wrong.

“I learned more from them than I was probably able to teach them about kindness myself. They showed me at such a young age how kind you can be,” said FGCU student Lars Gartelmann.

“I’ve learned being kind doesn’t come with an age range; it doesn’t take a grown man or grown woman to be kind,” said Ashlee Blewis, another FGCU student.

“The most important lesson I learned is … doesn’t have to be some large thought process, I’m gonna do this for kindness, this for compassion, it can just be sitting next to someone in class,” said FGCU student Ryan Iversen.

Each college student got to individually mentor one or two first graders this semester.

After Thursday’s presentation, those FGCU students were rightfully bragging about how many kind acts they’ve seen their mentees do.

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