'Kindness Rocks' at Rocky Branch
Rocks are everywhere, small, large, grey, brown, earth colors. Most rocks blend into their surroundings, and are given little thought. But soon, River Falls residents may see a blue, yellow, or multicolored rock hiding somewhere around town.
The rocks are part of the Kindness Rocks program starting up at Rocky Branch Elementary.
"In times where we seem to be divided ever more," said Rocky Branch Principal Chuck Eaton. "This is a type of project that brings people together and inspires hope."
On April 28, students will decorate rocks with a positive message they want to share with others. Then, the rocks will be distributed throughout the community at various locations.
"My hope for this program is that we are able to brighten the day of a person in need," said school counselor Amanda Kauth, who brought the idea to Rocky Branch. "And that members of the River Falls community will be inspired to pay it forward by continuing to spread this kindness project sparked by students at Rocky Branch."
The idea, Kauth and Eaton said, is that whoever finds one of the kindness rocks will be able to pick it up and take it with them, if they're so inclined, and then pass it on if they see fit.
"We aren't just dumping rocks," Eaton said. "We want them to be maybe at trailheads or maybe along the White Pathway. Someplace where people can discover them and ponder them, and bring the rock, and know that a child is helping to promote positive character throughout our community."
Eaton said it was Kauth's idea to bring the Kindness Rocks Project to Rocky Branch.
"I thought that the natural connection between the name of our school and the use of rocks for the Kindness Rocks project would be very symbolic for our students through the work they already do throughout the school year," Kauth said.
Kauth said the program gives students a chance to think about others, and try to make a difference for others who they haven't even met.
"I believe that students need opportunities to practice sharing their good character with others," Kauth said. "We learn about things like respect, cooperation, perseverance, positive attitude, etc. at school; this project provides students with an opportunity to serve the greater community and spread good character beyond the walls of our school building."
Eaton said the kids seem excited about the project.
"I'm very optimistic that they will be having a wonderful day, on that day, decorating rocks for others," Eaton said.
Eaton said the rocks have been gathered from various sources. Pierce County donated a number of river rocks, and people have also donated rocks from the Great Lakes area, and more.
Eaton said Rocky Branch is looking for local partners who will give the school permission to put kindness rocks at their locations. The school is further looking for locations that make sense.
"As you venture through the River Falls community, keep an eye out for rocks painted with an inspirational message," Kauth said. "A student has created this Kindness Rock with compassion for you, in hopes that you will be inspired to carry on. Please take that rock and use it as a reminder of kindness in our community and pass it along to another person when you are ready.
"I know that I am looking forward to seeing colorful inspirations in random places throughout River Falls in the near future!"