By Bianca Peters

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NORTH BAY VILLAGE (CBSMiami) — A little kindness goes a long way.

“Sharing my food with them, sometimes giving my dollars to them, it’s really fun being nice to other people,” first-grader Ere Cascellanos described her definition of kindness.

She and other students at Treasure Island Elementary in North Bay Village have worked year round on being kind. It’s part of the Jennifer Beth Turken Heart Award, a program designed to recognize and reward children for their kindness, respect and sensitivity towards one another.

“It’s been happening every year for number of years. It’s one of my favorite events because it truly recognizes kindness for something that is truly noticed recognized and rewarded,” explained Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

The Jennifer Beth Turken Heart Award was made in dedication for Bob and Dana Turken’s daughter who passed away from a brain tumor in third grade. Her older sister, Danny Turken, talked to the students Friday morning.

“You be strong, you be loud, but most of all be kind. Because we don’t know what everyone else is going through so the best thing is to be nice to everyone.”

Seven schools now participate in The Kindness Program, where each month, staff members nominate students from first to 5th grade for their acts of kindness.

Each month one student, whose act is a shining example, is recognized as the grade level winner. The selected monthly winners are invited with their classmates to an ice cream party along with the other recognized students. The students receive certificates and the teacher nominations are read to highlight being kind.

But it’s more than the awards to these students.

“To me, it’s important because I don’t like seeing other people sad,” said fifth grader Amanda Del La Torre. “If I see them sad, I have to do something about it.”

At the end of the year, an overall winner from each grade level receives a bicycle and helmet in an annual celebration.

Congratulations!

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