It is Joan Morgenstern’s conviction that kindness, gratitude and purposefulness are the immunization measures that can keep away cynicism and hopelessness -- and the younger we are when we are exposed to these vaccines, the more effective they prove to be. The parent educator at Sender’s Pediatrics, a private practice in Cleveland, Ohio, has developed a program that promotes kindness in children through events, lessons and tools. Children who visit the clinic are given an additional prescription to practice kindness. Research has shown that this quality promotes mental and physical health, helping to build more positive relationships and success in later life. While it gives individuals a strong sense of purpose and agency, it also helps to build more trusting, cooperative societies. Morgenstern moved the popular Community Kindness Day event online during the pandemic, providing kindness kits and encouraging kids to make cards for first responders or the elderly in care homes. Seven-year-old Garrett raised funds to start a “Kindness Corner” in his classroom, while young Derrick talked to other children about the importance of literacy and encouraged them to become strong readers. Shelly Senders, the clinic’s founding pediatrician said, “It started out as something small, but it has become an integral part of how we operate in our office. It really has changed how we practice medicine.”

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