GBSRAK campaign leads to new Illinois kindness Legislation

Molly Stryker, staff reporter

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In response to the GBS Random Act of Kindness (GBSRAK) campaign that began in the 2014-2015 school year by Key Club, Illinois State Legislation designated the week of Dec. 11 through Dec. 17 as Random Act of Kindness Week on June 29.

According to Josh Koo, Key Club Advisor, GBSRAK began in an attempt to encourage kindness throughout the school. In fact, GBSRAK was a campaign originally intended for members of Key Club. However, over the two years it’s been in effect, it has spread throughout the whole school, the community and now the state.

The campaign caught the attention of Laura Fine, Illinois State Representative in the 17th District.  Fine heard about GBSRAK as a member of Kiwanis, a global organization of volunteers that does various acts of community service, which is affiliated with Key Club. Fine worked with the leadership of Key Club with hopes of spreading the campaign even further.

“Just talking to everybody and knowing that it was so successful [at GBS, I asked] ‘Why can’t we spread it around so it can be successful throughout the state?’” Fine said.

Fine introduced the idea of creating a bill that formally recognizes this campaign throughout Illinois in February 2016. It then went to committee in April, it was passed in May and in June 2016 the resolution was adopted. According to Fine, there were no complications in passing the bill and the decision was unanimous.

“What you try to do is you bring a bill or resolution and you talk to people and say, ‘Will you support it or will you be a co-sponsor?’” Fine said. “Which means, will you also put your name on it to say, ‘I think this is a great idea and I strongly support it and I want it to pass.’ So, if you look at the list of co-sponsors, it was completely bipartisan. People thought it was a good idea to do something nice for somebody else.”

According to Lori Steffel, administrative leader of Key Club, the bill reassures the intentions of Key Club’s original campaign: to spread kindness and to make South students and community members feel good everyday.

“[The bill] does not change the campaign within GBS, I would say it maybe strengthens it, in that now we’re not only backed by Key Club and by the city of Glenview, but now by the entire state of Illinois,” Steffel said.        

The fact that the bill is implemented throughout the state allows GBSRAK to reach a larger amount of people. However the campaign itself won’t change, Steffel says.

“The message doesn’t change, the goal doesn’t change, what we’re going to do to promote it largely won’t change except it might happen on a bigger scale,” Steffel said.

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