Club Joy at Hanahan High celebrates World Kindness Day with acts of kindness
Published Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019
BCSD photo / Monica Kreber
Walking into their lunch hour Nov. 13, Hanahan High students received a lot of “free” stuff: free hugs, free selfies, free high-fives, free candy, free pencils, free stickers, free jokes, free compliments and free dance moves.
These gifts were doled out by students with special needs partnered up with general education students to spread some love on World Kindness Day, a day where everyone is encouraged to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and performing acts of kindness.
Students performing these acts in the cafeteria were part of Hanahan High’s newest club, Club Joy, an all-inclusive club that integrates students of all abilities.
Hanahan High special services teacher and Teacher of the Year Alyson Formichella said throughout the year Club Joy hosts social events after school and on the weekends to promote inclusion between special needs and general education students. Most recently the club participated in the Hanahan Homecoming Parade, went trick-or-treating, took a field trip to see “The Addams Family” and hosted an ice cream social to celebrate becoming an official club. The club is currently looking forward to an upcoming Charleston Stingrays game and a Thanksgiving potluck.
“Basically Club Joy is here to spread kindness and joy throughout Hanahan,” she said. “Right now we’re… starting at the high school level and hopefully later on we’ll be able to push out sort of into the community.”
The club is also trying to raise funds here and there to keep it either free or low-cost, she said. It currently boasts 87 members.
The club started in mid-September. It is the brain child of 10th-grader Nona Brown, who thought of it after attending Camp Joy over the summer. She said participants got to spend a week with a “buddy”; Brown got very attached to her buddy and loved the experience so much that she wanted to bring it to Hanahan High.
Brown is hopeful to one day be an occupational therapist for special needs patients.
She said the idea behind World Kindness Day is to be kind no matter who someone is or what they look like.
“Just be kind to everyone,” she said.
Donning their Club Joy t-shirts, club members walked around the cafeteria, with Formichella’s students wearing different signs depicting the “free” acts of kindness they offered their peers. The student body was pretty receptive to the scene, with students smiling for selfies offered by 10th-grader Haley Craft; digging into the box of pencils 11th-grader Alex Gray handed out; and opening their arms for 10th-grader Kalib Gibbs’s free hugs.
However, Formichella said this behavior is not atypical of her students.
“You’ll see all of these things happening every day…at Hanahan,” she said, adding that everyone is always very receptive. “I’ve never really seen any high schools like this. It’s amazing. Everybody is so kind and understanding. It’s a really happy and fun place to be.”
Following lunch Formichella was joined by some of her students in wheeling the “Woot Woot Wagon” to every classroom to offer teachers and staff snacks, homemade chocolates and sodas. The group greeted teachers at the door calling out “woot woot!” and “Happy World Kindness Day!”
10th-grader Madison Lind joined the club because she wanted to help all students feel loved and accepted.
“And just to spread happiness and kindness every day, not just (World) Kindness day,” she said.
BCSD photo / Monica Kreber