Students around the globe are joining metro Detroit schoolchildren this year in expressing their thoughts on kindness through our International Art and Writing Project. “The project lets every child know they have a voice, no matter where they are in the world,” says Stephanie Castanedo, program manager for the project.

So far in 2019, more than 300 students have taken part in the International Art and Writing Project. They came not only from Detroit, Taylor and Flint Michigan, but also from the mountain valley of Sarajevo, Bosnia, the historic cities of Querétaro, Mexico and Limerick, Ireland, and the urban centers of Shanghai, China and Bengaluru, India. Schools in Brazil, Israel, Kenya and South Africa have also agreed to participate in the project.

All ages of students are asked to use their creativity to explore a universal theme. Each student receives a square canvas on which to paint a picture and write a statement about what the theme of kindness meant to them.

Similar Sentiments

The results have been pouring in. Despite the miles between the students, their sentiments are similar. “Kindness for me is helping our friends and neighbors,” wrote a preschooler in Mexico. “Not only helping with material things but with giving time and listening as well.” A fifth grader in Sarajevo echoed: “We need to be nice to people no matter how we or they look like.”

In the coming weeks, Beyond Basics will be sharing the wonderful pieces of art and writing with the schools electronically, so the students can connect with their peers and see how other students interpreted the theme. Each participant will receive a lanyard displaying an image of their artwork.

Third graders at Burton International Academy in Detroit depicted what kindness meant to them.

While one student in Sarajevo drew a child being kind to an adult, another wrote, “We should help people that need it. We should stop mocking and bullying people with special needs.”

A third grader in China painted an act of kindness: a child presenting her mother with a bouquet of flowers.

A third grader from Myers Elementary School in Taylor, Michigan looked close to home to find the meaning of kindness.