Student Kayla holds a copy of "A Pebble for Your Thoughts" while other students paint their kindness rocks. Photo by Judy Bass (Click "View Full Article" for story)
By Judy Bass
CANTON - During lunches in the cafeteria at Blue Hills Regional Technical School, you would typically see students eating, chatting, and enjoying a short break from their usual hectic activities. What you would not typically see are students eagerly lining up to adorn small rocks with brief, heartfelt messages, but that is exactly what happened at Blue Hills during one memorable week in October.
They were actually participating in a movement started by Cape Cod resident Megan Murphy, who founded The Kindness Project. Her modest venture caught fire, generating international attention and publicity, a book titled “A Pebble for Your Thoughts: How One Kindness Rock at the Right Moment Can Change Your Life,” and a catchy motto, “One message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life.”
Ms. Murphy, weary of the negativity rampant in the news every day, had started taking solitary walks along the beach to rejuvenate her spirits. She also began collecting rocks and writing inspirational messages on them. A friend stumbled upon one and warmly thanked Ms. Murphy for giving her an unexpected emotional pick-me-up when she least anticipated it.
Suddenly realizing the immense power of those humble rocks and messages, Ms. Murphy was energized to leave the rocks in even more locations – at the grocery store, at the coffee shop, “and basically anywhere I felt they would be found by someone who needed the inspiration,” as she wrote in the introduction to her book.
Ms. Murphy’s sweetly compassionate endeavor appealed to Blue Hills Library Media Specialist Caroline Dynan. A devotee herself of walking on the beach and admiring the unique rocks she noticed there, Mrs. Dynan proposed having Blue Hills students paint their own meaningful exhortations on rocks during lunches at the school if they wished to. They could keep them, give them away or leave them to be claimed by anybody in need of a little boost.
“I really enjoy our librarian, Mrs. Dynan, engaging our students during lunch as they paint positive messages on beach rocks,” said Blue Hills Superintendent Jill Rossetti. “It's a great way to make friends and make someone's day better by spreading kindness.”
A table was set up at the front of the cafeteria, with rocks already painted in striking hues by Mrs. Dynan just waiting for messages to be written on them. Students eagerly added thoughts like “Stay in School,” “Hope,” “Smile, You’re Amazing,” “Love Yourself” and “Good Luck,” citing the value of “creating positivity” and being “inspirational.” One rock simply had a cute smiley face on it. Some of the students collaborated on their rocks, while others went the solo route.
However they opted to go about it, all seemed to understand the deeper meaning of what they were doing. Based on the students’ enthusiasm for the project, Mrs. Dynan would like to set aside a space in the school library where they can work on more kindness rocks in the future.
“When I met Megan [Murphy] at a book signing,” said Mrs. Dynan, “I was inspired by her message and knew that I wanted to bring The Kindness Project to the students at Blue Hills. I wanted to do this activity with the students because I think that it's important for the students to think of others. The project fosters empathy, and shows that sometimes a small gesture can make a big difference.”