Church uses competition to teach acts of kindness

And they’re off! The boy down the street is racing to help the older lady cross the street. But wait, here she comes. Jerry, his neighbor, might get there first. It will be close …

Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, at 781 Gamebird Road, has built a festival around competition and its ability to teach. The kids will be doing acts of kindness to get tickets for the festival but it just may not be as dramatic as depicted above.

The festival is known as the Spring Festival for the church and is a two-day event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 22 and from noon to 4 p.m. on April 23.


Competition is the essence of sports. It is the foundation on which all sports are built. But did you know kids can actually learn something from competition?

Using competition to teach different concepts is not something new. Schools have been doing this for years.

Armando Veloz said he does it at Rosemary Clarke Middle School.

“We do a competition-style activity in our seventh-grade modeling and design class,” Veloz said. “The students are given a task to create a foot orthosis that will help a patient with a particular cerebral palsy disorder with learning to walk correctly.”

He said the competition is for each team to come up with the best idea, and then prototype it.

“While working in groups, they complete the design challenge and then present their work to the class,” he said. “They share their ideas, struggles and success with an end goal of being able to sell their prototype design to a business.”

He said competition will bring out higher level work and end products than simply completing a task and turning in minimal work for credit.


It is this spirit that Donna Smith, the organizer of the upcoming event at the Catholic church, is trying to capture. Smith designed a whole festival on acts of kindness using competition.

“The purpose of the festival is to reward our children for helping others and to teach delayed gratification,” Smith said. “I had children helping neighbors with their weeds and then didn’t charge them anything for their work. For every act of kindness, the kids get to play games at the festival and they win prizes. Each act of kindness is verified by parents.”

Smith said the community wins too.

“New relationships are being forged between families,” she said. “The man that needs his weeds pulled gets to know the young kid. The old man then invites the kid’s family over for lunch and they get to know each other. Neighbors helping each other and getting to know each other from one act of kindness.”

Smith said the kids that participate in the festival become better citizens.

“We have twelve-year-olds learning how to do chores and teens helping out people with their groceries,” Smith said. “They are helping complete strangers at Smith’s.”


John Forcht is a member of the church and his kids participated in the festival.

“I think the concept is great to encourage the kids to receive an award for doing kind acts,” he said. “They were limited to 25 tickets and prizes for each kid. The true benefit is the accountability of the parents getting the kid involved in doing something good.”

He said the concept works for all ages. His son is a teen and it was hard to get him involved but he was convinced to do it.

“My son John had his sheet filled out,” he said. “He picked up the trash, fed the dog, cleaned his room and mowed the grass. I would say he did his chores better, but these are normal chores. I would expect him to do it without being told and be a little bit more volunteering. To me, you have to feed the dog every day. It was harder for my kid. It is a good experience for younger children. It might influence them to get chores done.”


You don’t have to be a member of the church to come. For more information call Our Lady of the Valley Church at 775-727-4044.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at

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