— -- The founders of the Great Kindness Challenge, a grass-roots campaign aimed at spreading goodwill and happiness in schools across the country, appeared on "Good Morning America" today to share the work they are doing to make the world a better place.
Jill McManigal, 52, from Carlsbad, California, said that she originally started the Great Kindness Challenge in her backyard with her children, who were only seven and four years old at the time, and their neighborhood friends. Together, the group formed what became "Kids for Peace," an international non-profit that spearheaded the Great Kindness Challenge, a challenge taken by schools and youth groups to perform as many acts of kindness, form a list fifty acts, as possible over the course of the week.
"My inspiration is creating a world where everyone is loved and cared for and happy," McManigal told ABC News. "The mission of the Great Kindness Challenge is to create a school environments where all students thrive."
"We want all children and all students to recognize the goodness in others, and this gives them the platform to do that," McManigal said of the challenge.
In 2012, she brought the challenge to three local schools in her community, including the elementary school her children attended. The following year, 263 schools participated in the challenge. This year, more than 12,000 schools, and over 10 million students across the country, are participating in the challenge.
To participate in the Great Kindness Challenge, students receive a checklist of fifty simple, kind, acts that they can accomplish. Students are encouraged to try and complete all 50 random acts of kindness over the course of one week. Some of the items on the list are as simple as smiling at 25 people, while others might encourage students to step out of their comfort zones by sitting with someone new at lunch.
Richard Tubbs, the principal of Hope Elementary School in Carlsbad, Calif., which was one of the first schools to implement the Great Kindness Challenge, said in a statement that he believes "it’s very important that everyone is always thinking about ways to be kind."
"We just want everyone to be able to share that same kindness wherever they go in their community, around the world," Tubbs added.
McManigal said the reaction to the challenge at schools has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I see that everyone is just a bit more or a lot more happier," McManigal said. "There is such a power in doing for others, and also from receiving."
McManigal added that teachers have also been very supportive of the Great Kindness Challenge in their schools because it "because they see their students reaching out to each other and being very conscious of their actions and words, so it makes for a happier and healthier learning environment."
The materials that educators need to implement the Great Kindness Challenge in their schools is all free, according to McManigal, who added that they have over 25,000 volunteers with their organization working to implement the challenge in local schools.
McManigal added that the joy that the program brings to schools and communities is "palpable."
"As the children are given permission to go out there and really exert their kindness," McManigal said. "It creates this joy that is palpable on campuses."