Random Acts of Kindness in School: The Breakfast Club


In the fall of 2006, a group of grade eight students at Pitt River Middle School decided to undertake an experiment - a year’s worth of anonymous, random acts of kindness.

Follow their uplifting journey that demonstrates that:

  1. helping others promotes happiness[1],  

  2. early adolescence is an ideal time[2] for promoting kindness, and

  3. building relationships ultimately promotes resilience[3].

This is the story of “The Breakfast Club.”

Read more on happiness, stress and resilience to inspire your own school experiment.

Science show "the benefits of altruism for creating happiness." Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl, The Breakfast Club

In a study of 457 teens, altruism was positively linked with health in teen girls and with well-being for both teen boys and girls.  "Family helping" was the most significant factor which showed positive associations with friendships, purpose in life and self-acceptance.

"Early adolescence is a stressful transitional time, it is a stress pileup." Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl, The Breakfast Club

The early adolescence is a period of low emotional stability among youth who experience a range of emotions. The findings of longitudinal research suggest that this change and flux slows in late adolescence, however children and youth who have difficulty with adaptation during this period, experience enduring negative consequences later in life. These results emphasize the important role for stress prevention during these years.

"The dynamic nature of resiliency and relationships is the core and key element of resilience: with teachers, with the janitor with each other...and with their parents." Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl, The Breakfast Club

Research shows that an adolescent's inner strength and resilience are shaped most notably by positive expectations and supportive relationships.

  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.