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Messages of kindness and peace from students around the world forms a chain 18 miles long

This monumental project, by Kids for Peace, involved the creation of 360,000 links composed entirely of recycled paper. (CREDIT: Kids for Peace)

Carlsbad, California witnessed an extraordinary display of compassion and unity last World Kindness Day, as a massive paper chain, extending over 18 miles, adorned the football field of Pacific Rim Elementary School.

This monumental project, orchestrated by Kids for Peace, a global nonprofit headquartered in Carlsbad, involved the creation of 360,000 links composed entirely of recycled paper.


What makes this effort even more remarkable is the diverse origins of these paper links, crafted by students from schools across all 50 states of the U.S. and from every continent except Antarctica.

Jill McManigal, co-founder and leader of Kids for Peace, initiated this endeavor in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. With students experiencing prolonged periods of isolation, McManigal saw an opportunity to foster connections and optimism through symbolic means.


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The resulting paper chain, brimming with messages of love and kindness, served as a tangible link between individuals separated by physical distance but united in spirit.

The linguistic diversity of the messages reflects the global reach of the project, with expressions of love spanning languages such as Chinese, Farsi, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, and even Braille.


Local volunteers diligently assembled these messages into chains, with Oscar Torrico, a counselor at Oceanside Reynolds Elementary School, recounting the collaborative efforts undertaken during lunch breaks and after school hours over a span of six weeks.

Olivia Clark, a Kids for Peace student volunteer, in a sea of paper chain links bearing messages of kindness. (CREDIT: Kids for Peace)

Educators involved in the project emphasized its profound impact on students, who eagerly contributed to this collective expression of goodwill. Margaret Malek, a fifth-grade teacher at Reynolds Elementary, observed how participation in the project instilled a sense of pride and purpose in her students.


Assembling the paper chain became a communal endeavor, with students reflecting on their experiences and channeling positive wishes for the world into their messages.

Carlsbad eighth-grader James Jansen holds up one of the paper links before it is stapled and added to the Kids for Peace chain. (CREDIT: Kids for Peace)

The culmination of this endeavor occurred on the playground, where students gathered to arrange the paper links into the shape of a peace sign. Although the original aspiration to achieve a Guinness World Record for the longest paper link chain was tempered by logistical constraints, McManigal remains steadfast in her conviction that this initiative represents a pioneering achievement in promoting love, hope, and peace.


This recent feat adds to the track record of Kids for Peace, which previously set a Guinness record in 2015 for creating the largest collage of handprint cutouts, adorned with personalized messages of positivity. Since its inception in 2006, Kids for Peace has evolved into a global movement spanning 450 chapters across six continents, with a mission to cultivate kindness, love, and peace among youth.

On Nov. 13, World Kindness Day, this giant heart was made with paper links at Carlsbad’s Pacific Rim Elementary School. (CREDIT: Kids for Peace)

In addition to its flagship programs like the Peace Pledge Program and the annual Great Kindness Challenge, Kids for Peace spearheads impactful service projects aimed at fulfilling the wishes of children in need around the world. These endeavors are funded through grassroots fundraising activities organized by students, ranging from coin tosses to lemonade stands.


The significance of the paper chain extends beyond its visual spectacle, as the links will be distributed to various institutions and organizations, including senior centers, libraries, and political offices, spreading messages of hope and resilience far beyond Carlsbad.

McManigal recalls a poignant moment during the project when a teacher stumbled upon a message written by one of her students amidst the sea of paper links, serving as a poignant reminder of the collective resilience and compassion exhibited during challenging times.

As the world continues to navigate uncertainty, initiatives like the paper chain project serve as beacons of hope, demonstrating the transformative power of unity, compassion, and collective action.


In the words of McManigal, "There's something magical about this," a sentiment echoed by all those touched by the outpouring of love and kindness encapsulated within each link of the paper chain.

For more good news stories check out our Good News section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


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