Kindness Project

Rocking Kindness

It all started with an idea on a stick in a date night jar at my bridal shower last June. Now it’s evolved into something much larger involving many rocks, sealants, paints, and tools. Oh, and now it’s also moving into the high school where I work. What is it? Painting rocks to spread random acts of kindness.

I began painting rocks as part of a date night idea with my wife. We bought a few rocks from Michael’s, and some paint pens. Bethany found that she didn’t have the patience for painting rocks, but I found a new hobby.

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Cue the buying of many, many pounds of rocks, acrylic paints, brushes, paint pens, and more. I tried out new ideas, listened to others, and joined the RVA Rocks! group on Facebook. I began exploring parks in the Richmond, Virginia area and finding rocks along the way.

Painting rocks is part of a spreading random kindness movement. When someone paints a rock, they seal it up with a sealant and then release into the wild. The wild could be in random parks, outside of stores, or simply just handing off a rock to a random stranger on daily errands. There are, of course, places rocks cannot be placed, but as long as simple rules are followed, everyone benefits.

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Online groups on social media have popped up to share the rock love. When rocks are found, they often ask the finder to post online to a group or hashtag to share with others. I am part of the RVA Rocks! group, so any rocks I paint have instructions to post to this particular Facebook page if found. Rock groups are also used to share the progress of rock projects of members before these treasures are released into the wild. Different groups may do other activities, such as host painting nights or trading meetups. They help to build the rock community in an area.

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There are a few key things to remember about rocking and spreading random kindness. First, and foremost, is that it is about spreading random acts kindness and brightening up another person’s day. Anyone participating should remember that rocks won’t always be posted online to give notice that they were found. Participants should also remember that the goal is not to “hunt” rocks. The goal is to enjoy the local community and explore. If a rock is found, great. If not, then folks still had a chance to get out and explore. Finally, be kind and take only a little. Sometimes, a lot of rocks may be found. Most should end up rehidden, and only favorites kept. This keeps rocks in the wild spreading around and around. Often, I will rehide most in the location where I found them, take a few to keep, and a few to rehid in other locations. If you can’t remember these key points as you participate, spreading rock kindness may not be the right hobby for you.

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Do you want to get started spreading rock kindness? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find some rocks. You can purchase rocks from Home Depot, Lowes, or landscaping places. Some folks use rocks they find in the wild or their backyards. Make sure your rocks are cleaned off!
  2. Buy acrylic paint & brushes. If you’re just getting started, you just need a few bottles of acrylic paint. Walmart sells Apple Barrel brand for 50 cents a bottle. Your brushes don’t have to be expensive either. You can buy a package of random sizes.
  3. Don’t forget the sealant! You’ll need to seal the rocks after they have had time to dry. You can use a spray sealant (I like Krylon Triple Thick Clear Glaze for the shine), or something like mod podge. Follow the directions, but make sure the paint on your rock has had time to dry!
  4. Paint your rocks. Have fun, and paint to your heart’s content. If you want to sketch a design, it helps to paint a thin base of white paint on the rock first, let dry, and then sketch.
  5. Label the back of the rock. After the front of the rock dries, don’t forget to tag the back of the rock. If you’re part of a rock group on social media, use their tag. Not part of one? Search to find one in your area. I usually write “Post to RVA Rocks on FB”. I also tag with my artist name, TheChespinKid, and add the year. Write whatever you like.
  6. Share your work with your rock group. This is optional, but if you’re part of a group, it’s fun to share the hard work you put into making that rock before releasing it into the wild. It also helps others to learn to recognize your work and style when rocks are posted as found.
  7. Release into the wild! Time to let that rock go. I find local parks to be my favorite place, but rocks can also be dropped while on errands. Be careful dropping rocks inside of stores. Most stores do not allow this, especially near food. State parks also do not allow rocks to be placed inside. If you’re not sure, ask someone in your rock group.
  8. Keep an eye out for shared rocks. If you asked for your rock to be posted to your rock group, keep an eye out for posted photos after you release the rock. However, keep in mind that 3 out of 4 times, your rock will not be posted as found to the group. That’s okay! Painting and hiding rocks are not about you or getting recognized by others. Remember, it’s always about kindness first.

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If you get started with painting rocks, respond to this post and let me know. If you’d like to see more of my rock work, check me out on Instagram: TheChespinKid. If you have questions about rocking with kindness, just let me know!

The Kindness Wall Projects

One project that has taken me a lot of work this year is my Kindness Wall projects. I wanted to implement one at both the middle school and the high school where I work. I wanted the walls to be spaces where students could go to find words that might inspire or give them a boost for the day. They would be able to take these words with them and have them as a reminder.

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To begin the project, I ran it by the media specialists at each school, and acquired a space for my project. That was really the easy part. All loved the idea, and were happy to include it in the windows. The hard part would be the actual design of the space.

I began by scouring websites for quotes that were positive and inspirational. I would write down the ones I liked best, so I’d have easy access to them at any time. On the middle school’s Facebook page, I asked our families to provide quotes they really enjoyed. Our high school page was very busy, so I nixed the idea here. I received a lot of ideas from the middle school families, and added those to my already written quotes. In the end I stopped at 111 quotes, knowing I’d have enough to start. Just spending time copying them down made me feel better myself.

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Once I had some quotes, the next step was working on the letters for the wall and information pages. I called the middle school wall “Kindness to Go”, while the high school wall was “Motivation to Go”. Some of the library aides assisted with the naming of that one. I made the letters for the middle school wall, and the library aides did the high school one.

The hardest part of putting the wall together was writing up all of the sticky notes that needed to be posted. It took me a couple of days to write down enough for the middle school wall so that it had a good number. I got assistance at the high school with some of the work, so that did help. Some notes are simply text in ink, others have words that stand out with Sharpie, and some have doodles or drawings. There’s no rhyme or reason to how it was done. If a quote seemed like it would benefit from one of those things, then I did it.

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The walls at each school are up and running, and staff are invited to contribute. Students can leave their ideas with the library media specialists and they will be placed up after being approved. We are trying to avoid students using the wall for harmful intent while still giving them the opportunity to play a role as well.

I plan to keep updating and adding to the wall as the year goes on. I’m not sure if I will make any changes to the project for second semester. I want to see how it runs for this semester first.

Kindness: Behind the Scenes

It has been a couple of weeks now since I began embarking on my road to kindness. It is not easy to do at times, and there is work involved, but it is a labor of love for the ripples that may be created, but unseen.

Every week, I make it my goal to send a card to 5 staff at each of my schools. I do the cards for the HS on Sunday night, and I do the MS cards on Monday night. At this point, it takes me at least a 1/2 hour for each set. I concoct a note, and then I add something to the top section of the card. Once it was jokes about the eclipse. Another time it was kindness quotes. Currently I also include scratch ‘n sniff stickers as well. I need to get more stickers soon.

The high school also happens to send out faculty and staff birthdays each day in the announcements, so I know exactly who is having a birthday. I have plenty of blank cards that I have been using to send birthday cards to these folks; I enjoy creating something unique and special for each one. I create a birthday saying and draw a picture to go with it in the card.

Sometimes, I hear back from staff members after they receive the card. Most of the time, I don’t, and that’s okay. It is one thing I quickly learned to accept. The point of the project was to spread kindness, not be recognized for every little bit of it. Sometimes, things are just left unsaid, and all I can hope was that the card was a bright spot in that person’s day. When I do hear back, I’m often amazed at how the cards make a difference sometimes. One staff member told me it helped give her the boost she needed to face her students on the first day (she was new to teaching), and another told me she’d just had a bad day and really needed the words in that card to boost her spirits.

I am enjoying the little differences these cards are making. I enjoy putting them together for staff, and the extra time is worth it if it makes someone’s day a little brighter. They have helped pave the way for my FlucoGram project, which is coming up in September, and I’m eager to work on that with students. That update will come near the end of the month, hopefully!

Embarking Toward Kindness

This year, I have decided to try some different in how I interact with people. A fellow colleague, Tamara Letter, has inspired me with her work with kindness and her own students. I wanted to do my own work with kindness, and though I feel as though I am bumbling along, I feel like I am starting to make a difference, even if it is a small one. I’m finding my way along, so a lot of what I do is trial and error as I come up with different ideas.

My first act was designing the FlucoGram program. I have everything set to roll with this pretty much, and the school will purchase the supplies I need. Once a month during lunch shifts, students and teachers will be able to visit my table. They will be able to fill out 1 card for another teacher or student. I’ll take the cards collected and sort through them to be delivered. Teachers will also be made aware that if there is a student they know of who could use some kind thoughts to let me know and we can send a FlucoGram to them at any point in the year.

While I was designing the FlucoGram program, I also planned to really get new staff at both of my schools off on the right foot. I had already been asked by my high school principal to keep in close contact with his new teachers via email, so I decided to do the same with the new middle school teachers. However, I knew that I wanted to do more, and so ended up writing a welcome card to each new staff member. I had bought some scratch ‘n sniff stickers and put those inside as well. I placed them in each teacher’s mailbox.

What was funny was that I did hear back from those teachers. Not every teacher, of course, but some of them. They were grateful for the kind words. One teacher even told me that she was worried and doubting herself as the year started, and then she received my card and the words just spoke to her. What had seemed like just words to me made a powerful impact on her. That made me smile. Doing this is not about receiving thank yous or accolades, but it is about making others feel good, making them smile. That’s all I care about, whether they tell me about it or not.

Because of this bright start, I’m going to pick some staff members from each school every week and write them a small card. I have plenty of extras, and I want to make them smile as well. I have a list of staff from each school, so I can easily track this and try not to miss anyone. It will be a lofty goal, as I have almost 100 teachers alone at the high school. No one said it was going to be easy though.

I do have another plan for my Kindness Project, but I’m not going to share it just yet until I get it rolling at both schools. It will be in the media center, and both library media specialists have approved the idea. I just need to get things rolling with it first because I want to have some images to share as well.

I hope to have more ideas and inspiration throughout the year. I just want to try new things and make my schools a little bit brighter for the teachers and staff. It’s hard work, but it’s fun and it’s rewarding, and that’s what matters most.