These 12 Nicest Places in America Will Tug at Your Heartstrings
If you haven’t heard of them yet, you will soon.
Coon Rapids High School in Coon Rapids, Minnesota
Courtesy Jamie Weisz
At many schools, getting kids to pay attention to the morning announcements is nearly impossible. But at Coon Rapids High School in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, they are a can’t-miss part of the day. The suburban school has managed to enlist a series of famous folks—professional athletes, singers, and television personalities—in a noble project: recording short videos about the importance of kindness.
The school’s yearlong Kindness Matters campaign is led by special education teacher and designated “kindness coordinator” Jamie Weisz. Weisz is also a networker extraordinaire, and he has sweet-talked celebrities, such as Tom Brady, Alex Trebek, and Robin Roberts, into appearing in the school’s announcements, which are broadcast on the SMART Boards in each classroom.
“The videos have been a huge hit with students and even staff,” Weisz says. “I have had students come up to me to see if I can get a favorite actor or rapper to do a kindness message.”
But the videos are only one part of the campaign. Students also participate in kindness contests, charity drives, and kindness-themed pep fests throughout the year. “We need to challenge kids to make kindness a priority,” Principal Annette Ziegler told the Star Tribune.
Courtesy Kelyn Nightengale
For most of her life, Kelyn Nightengale of Lincoln, Nebraska, says she was more likely to donate her money than her time. But after watching the social ruptures that emerged from the 2016 presidential election, that changed. “I knew that while I couldn’t fix the world, I could affect what was around me, my family, and our city,” she says.
So she launched a Facebook group called Make Lincoln Kind Again. Members have made cards for seniors, assembled hygiene bags for women in need, and gathered supplies for an incoming refugee family. There’s some karma at play, too: When Nightengale had a stroke in January, members rallied to make hospital visits and look after her kids. “It’s amazing to see people you barely know come out of the woodwork to support you,” she says. “Being nice isn’t hard—and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.”