‘Girl power’ inspires kindness initiative at Tech Center

When you walk into the Technical and Career Education Center (TCE) on North Landing Road, the first thing you see past the front desk is a black bulletin board with four stark yellow words in large block lettering: BE KIND TO SHINE. Next to it, a small blue letter-box on the wall is decorated with yellow stars. It’s one of five such bins placed around the building where anyone can drop a note, nominating someone for doing good.

Zalani Johnson-Brooks, Erin Ausderau, Zoey Monds, Brittany Roberts, Mia Araujo, Bianca Cortez and Ariana Parnell

The effort is that of seven young women who had not met before they started a Medical Systems Administration class at TCE. But together they collaborated on developing the concept and promoting it, including making the boxes, flyers and certificates and talking to fellow classmates about the program.

“It’s like a branch of safe schools and anti-bullying,” says team member Erin Ausderau. “It’s helping us become a community so we can help each other feel safer and make each other feel happier and want to come to school. I feel like it’s important to nominate those who are being kind.”

Dec. 6 marked the debut for the competition, and the winners were selected from more than a dozen entries. The team said it was not an easy decision, but Andrew Madison received one of the awards for having a positive attitude in school. “The people in the classroom really appreciated that, and that’s why they nominated him,” Zoey Monds explains.

The “Be Kind to Shine” team awarded Andrew Madison.

All of the women signed a certificate and offered up a gift bag of candy and a “kindness” bracelet. They plan to gather every week to review all the entries and select two winners.

The “Be Kind to Shine” initiative has fostered new friendships too.

“Not only is this promoting kindness, but I feel like in this group of women, we are definitely getting closer,” Monds observes. “We are promoting kindness within our small group. It gives us a better attitude about coming to VoTech. It makes us happy to come here and be with everybody.”

The group hopes the program is picked up by other division schools. “We want to make people feel like they’re shining,” says Ausderau. “Start from the inside, work your way out.”

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