Just before an arctic cold front pushed temps into single digits over Thanksgiving, local middle school students were making sure those less fortunate would be a little warmer.
The Good Vibes Tribe is an after school club at Abington Heights Middle School.
“The club is about positivity,” teacher Kirsten Ambrose shared. “Positivity with others, positivity with ourselves.”
Ambrose, who recently moved to the area, is in her first year on staff at Abington Heights as a sixth-grade social studies teacher and advisor for the Good Vibes Tribe after school club.
“It has been so great to see all that has come out of the Good Vibes Tribe,” Ambrose said. “I work in a school that is in a very resourceful community. But this community also has a big heart. The kids showed that. I started this club and saw young students who were willing and able to care for those in need.”
Little did Ambrose know when the club began, how that positivity would spread and change not only her students but make a profound impact on others.
The idea was suggested to collect scarves for the homeless in Scranton.
“It was suggested by a student,” Ambrose said. “That’s what made it so powerful. I asked the students what ideas they had to spread positivity to others. The kids came up with about 50 ideas in that one meeting. I didn’t expect it. I thought I would have to prompt them. It showed me that the kids attending the club, were really in it. They took ownership of it and what we were trying to do. I was here to facilitate, but this was all them.”
Although the Good Vibes Tribe couldn’t accomplish all the ideas shared that day, they chose a few and ran with them.
Over six weeks, the fifth through eighth graders at Abington Heights performed acts of kindness and positivity. They wrote thank you notes to family, teachers and police officers. Placing sticky notes around the school with positive messages on them, they spread good vibes to other students. An acts of kindness bingo game gave students a chance to spread kindness. They filled their bingo board with things like sharing candy, helping around the house or holding a door for a stranger.
Some weeks, the club took time to do something positive with each other.
“We had a dance day and we put on music videos and danced together,” Ambrose said. “I often shared a motivational quote or video at the beginning of our time to inspire the kids over the six weeks we met. But most weeks we focused on doing good things for others. Good vibes in action.”
The Good Vibes Tribe spread the word to other students at the middle school about their scarves for the homeless idea. In just a few weeks, Abington Heights Middle School collected 140 scarves.
“The whole school contributed. Then, parents and guardians agreed to come out and help distribute them with the Good Vibes Tribe. I was willing to put the scarves out myself, but it was impactful for the kids to see their work in action. We had about 17 students come out with their parents. Our principals, Colleen Leonard and Pat McGarry, came too. Mrs. Leonard knew the best spot to put out our scarves where homeless people could easily find them along the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.”
Scarves were tied to trees and lamp posts along the trail with a note.
“Please only take if you need. Donated to you by Abington Heights Middle School.”
A student suggested that the message be printed in Spanish as well, in case the person in need didn’t read English.
Students colored the printed notes, tying them on each scarf they left along the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.
“It was very cold the day we went out,” Ambrose shared. “But the kids didn’t complain and we had a good group come out. We tried to find an area by bridges where the homeless might be. We tied scarves around trees and lamp posts. We left some on benches along the trail, too.”
Knowing how fast the temperatures were dropping, everyone felt sure that their acts of kindness would make a difference. Although the Good Vibes Tribe after school club is new to Abington Heights Middle School this year, and like other clubs at the school, only met for a 6 week session, it made a difference that will last a lifetime.
“My philosophy in teaching is not just to teach academics, but to help students build life-long skills and values. I believe this service project for our Good Vibes Tribe not only spreads compassion to the homeless community, but spreads to the wider NEPA community as others have heard about it and were inspired.”
Abington Heights students’ infectious kindness made a difference that not only wrapped around the lamp posts along the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, but wrapped around the hearts of their community as well.