By Conrad Dudderar
As it spreads a mission to celebrate student birthdays, a nonprofit foundation recently distributed sweet treats across Yukon.
In the 2022-23 school year, Yukon Beautiful Day celebrated about 565 fourth graders in Yukon Public Schools.
The Beautiful Day program started 10 years ago in Duncan and has spread to 28 schools in 19 districts and eight counties across Oklahoma. Since its inception, some 46,000 K-5 students have been celebrated – about 8,460 this school year.
“Beautiful Day partners with schools to celebrate children’s birthdays,” said Kelsey Roberts, executive director of the Beautiful Day Foundation. “We go into the schools and tell the kids, ‘The day you were born was a beautiful day’.
“This is really a community initiative. We know, investing in kids’ lives early on, will only benefit our community and the place that we call home.”
Jennifer Carel and Julie Simeroth lead Beautiful Day in Yukon, where student birthdays are celebrated monthly during the school year at the district’s three intermediate sites – Lakeview, Independence and Redstone.
Each month, a birthday table is set up in the school cafeteria where students sit to enjoy a pizza lunch with treats and soft drinks. They each receive a birthday card and bracelet and have time to visit with community volunteers.
“The magic is the adults just sitting down and talking to them,” said Roberts, who previously was a teacher and elementary school principal. “We know the value of any additional adult support in kids’ lives. It is impactful.”
A Beautiful Day birthday party is one celebration that a student does not have to earn – as they do when reaching a reading or fund-raising goal, for example.
“Because you have a birthday and you are here, we’re going to celebrate you,” Roberts said.
She thanked the city of Yukon for “allowing us to come to the community and let everyone know the day you were born was a beautiful day – and your life and existence is worthy of being celebrated.”
COOKIES FOR YUKON
On April 27, Beautiful Day spread its mission in Yukon when volunteers delivered nearly 1,900 cookies to businesses, school personnel, public servants, and other supporters as a “random act of kindness.”
Beautiful Day’s leader described it as “love-bombing” the city.
This effort helped ignite Yukon to rally with one another and support their smallest community members – the kids, according to Roberts.
The average cost of one birthday celebration for one Yukon school is $350-$400. With 30 birthday parties per school year, the budget is about $10,000-$12,000.
“Beautiful Day Yukon would love any support from individuals or businesses – whether it is monetary, in-kind donations or service,” Roberts said. “The average volunteer time commitment is one hour per month.”
Because safety is a priority, interested volunteers must pass a background check to help at the school birthday parties.
“When you go to a birthday table and sit down with a kid – who may never get celebrated – and you tell them ‘Happy birthday’, and you see the smile, and you see the impact, you leave feeling good,” Roberts related.
“Those stories are leaving big impacts on people’s lives. … At the heart of it is connecting with youth and just celebrating them.”
Anyone interested in getting involved should visit https://beautifuldayfoundation.net/volunteer/