Schools (6-12 Grades)
Students should learn the history of the 9/11 tragedy in America then engage in acts of kindness.
Benefits of Participation:
Help to instill the values of empathy, cooperation, and compassion.
Show the importance of investing into your local community and how easy it can be to show kindness to a stranger.
Demonstrate to the community and student body that your school cares about having an impact.
FAQ and Tips:
Be sure to register your school, civic or nonprofit organization as a committed participant on our global map at https://www.payitforward911.org/events/. It’s free. If you have multiple locations, fill out separate forms for each address with locations your people will be engaging in good deeds September 10th or 11th, 2021.
This year September 11 falls on a Saturday. Can we participate on Friday, September 10?
YES! We’ve done this in the past. If you or any students need to schedule time to perform community service on Friday, then encourage the participants to tell the good deed recipients “Tomorrow is the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and we invite you to do three good deeds for strangers this weekend to honor the lives lost.”
Since the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks falls on a Saturday, schools are encouraged to organize events leading up to Friday, September 10. When a child does a good deed, they might tell the recipient “Tomorrow is Pay it Forward 9/11 Day, a national day of service and remembrance. I invite you to pay it forward and do three good deeds tomorrow.”
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is committed to providing students and teachers the tools to understand what happened on 9/11 and how the attacks continue to impact our lives. Click this link for teaching resources.
Below is a starting point of ideas schools have implemented for Pay it Forward 9/11 over the past 19 years. Help us by sharing your ideas on our map of hearts on the homepage of PayitForward911.org.
Tips for Middle schools:
Be sure to pair students with each other and at least one adult to ensure their safety when going out into the community to help others.
If leaving the school isn’t an option, then consider having the students write cards, create care packages/gifts that can be donated to a local homeless shelter.
Challenge the kids to create a variety of posters/flyers that can be emailed out in weekly newsletter or posted around the community that encourages people to perform three acts of kindness on 9/11.
Decorate the school halls with artwork using kind and encouraging words and images. Or have students write kind messages on post-its and place randomly around school.
Consider reaching out to a local non-profit organization to organize a field trip where the kids can come together to volunteer and support the community for a day.
Work with the administration to collaborate with the history teachers to create a rally or presentation that highlights the opportunity that 9/11 has given us to spread kindness to friends, neighbors, and strangers.
Encourage the student body to host a fundraiser to gather as much funding and resources that can be used support a non-profit on 9/11.
Create a paper classroom chain and each time a child does something nice for a classmate, add a paper link to the chain.
Students can make thank you cards to be distributed to cafeteria, library, custodial and office staff. Or send thank you cards to first responders or military members.
Students and staff could be encouraged to wear t-shirts with “Choose Kindness, Kindness is Cool and Pay it Forward” messages.
Create a rock garden. Students can paint encouraging words and messages on rocks and create a mini rock garden.
During recess, younger classes can be given sidewalk chalk and encouraged to write kind words and messages.
Good Deeds Jar. Students can write down an act of kindness they’ve witnessed or one they plan to do and put it in the jar to be shared at the end of the day.
Purchase inexpensive flowers (eg. carnations) for students to distribute to people (during or after school). Each student should attach a handwritten note explaining “Smile. This flower is an act of kindness to honor the lives lost on 9/11. Now it’s your turn. I invite you to pay it forward and create a ripple effect. Learn more at Payitforward911.org”.
Work with administrators to collaborate with language arts teachers. Challenge kids to write about the ripple effect of kindness and how we can honor the lives lost on 9/11 by committing a pledge to do a random act of kindness.
Tips for High schools:
Encourage the students to get together with their friends to come up with a list of possible good deeds that can be performed over the weekend.
Challenge student organizations to come up with different projects that they can work on to help improve the community such as cleaning a public park, planting trees, etc.
For students that are old enough to be on worker’s permits, ask them to reach out to their workplace to see if their bosses will support the Pay It Forward program and sign up their business to participate.
Get the local sports teams and school clubs to collaborate on hosting a fundraiser to support a non-profit organization in the area that everyone likes.
Challenge students to compete against each grade level (IE: freshman vs seniors) to see which class year perform the most good deeds on 9/11.
Present this as an opportunity for students to do a senior project where they showcase the good deeds they do for 9/11, present on the impact 9/11 had on American history.
Incorporate the Pay It Forward 9/11 messages and tips into school announcements that week, encouraging the students to do random acts of kindness.
Organize a clothing drive for new items such as socks, underwear, jackets, starting at the beginning of the week. The items can be redistributed to children who need them or taken to a shelter.
Plant a tree for the school or community in memory of lives lost on 9/11 and tie-in a lesson of how tree benefits all of us.
Students could donate books and leave written messages in them.The books can be donated to children in shelters.
Each classroom can create a “birthday box” for children living in shelters who may not celebrate a birthday. Items can be donated for specific age/gender and shoeboxes can be decorated with kind messages.
Designate a Pay it Forward week Sept. 6-10 and kick-start it with an assembly and a video clip to fuel the momentum and demonstrate a few ways to participate in committing random acts of kindness.
Create origamis and plant them around public spaces at the school, inserting various ways to be kind behind each message.
Host a “Kindness in the Community” discussion to reflect on people who help others. Posters, thank you cards can be sent to police stations, hospitals, forestations, nurses, etc.
Sleuthing out kindness. Students can skim news reports of stories involving kind acts and share with class.