Hope, Kindness, Bravery, Love. Imagine a community full of people sharing these words of encouragement with one another. Students at High Point Elementary are working to do just that by spreading kindness within their own school and around the Gahanna community by taking part in the Kindness Rocks Project.
The Kindness Rocks Project is a national grassroots kindness movement based on the simple idea that “one message at just the right time can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life”. It promotes random acts of kindness around communities. The movement first started when a woman named Megan Murphy began placing rocks, painted with inspirational quotes and sayings, on a Cape Cod beach. People quickly joined in, painting their own rocks with messages of hope and love. What began as a small passion project has now evolved into a national movement.
At Gahanna’s High Point Elementary, art teacher Katie Hoeper helped her students embrace the concept and encouraged them to focus on one word to paint on the rocks. This message would be something the students are striving to improve within themselves, something they wish to share with others or a word of encouragement for the community.
High Point Principal Kathleen Erhard chose to focus on the word “joy” and finding joy in every situation and circumstance. Hoeper chose “presence” for her rock, so she could focus on being more present in the classroom while working with her students. The motivation was that the words would challenge students to better themselves and show kindness to others.
To start the project, High Point students worked collectively to gather 1,000 rocks. Hoeper encouraged students to explore the surrounding areas near their homes for rocks they could bring back to the classroom.
“Students would come back the next day with awesome stories about how they found their rocks,” said Hoeper. “They would spend time exploring outside with their families, so they would have rocks to paint the following day.”
A Reading Garden, located next to the school, was chosen as a location to hide some of the rocks. High Point students are often rewarded with time to spend outside in the reading garden. The hope is that many of the rocks throughout the garden will promote positivity for the students.