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Kindness rocks

Keira Lambrecht, 11 of Jamestown, spells out the word "life" on a rock on June 25. Students painted kindness rocks as part of a project for the Jamestown Meaningful Out of School Time program. The rocks were painted with kind words or inspirational sayings and were placed around Jamestown. Keith Norman / The Sun

Jamestown youth are using a summer program project to spread the message of kindness.

Around 80 kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years old who participate in the Meaningful Out Of School Time (MOST) summer program at Washington Elementary School have worked on a Kindness Rocks Project for the past two weeks. The project involved painting messages of kindness on rocks and then leaving them around residential areas for people to find on July 3, which was National Drop A Kindness Rock Day.

"The students in our program are very excited about the project," said Lana Meissner, the Jamestown site coordinator for MOST. "Our goal for this project is to make sure kindness is spread throughout our city."

The kids spent a Monday morning painting the rocks with a solid color. Then the students came back to work with their instructors in painting messages using words and artwork on the rocks.

"On the bottom of each rock we wrote Jamestown Rocks Facebook so people can go to that page and upload a picture of the rock they found, where they found it and if they are going to re-hide it or keep it," Meissner said.

Megan Murphy, of Massachusetts, started the Kindness Rocks Project on the premise that the earlier a child starts understanding empathy and kindness the stronger it will be instilled. This leads to a more widespread understanding and communities that care for one another, according to Murphy's website. The project was developed into a school curriculum that was approved by teachers and education organizations.

Meissinger said that while on vacation her own son found a kindness rock in Grand Forks. It had been placed there by a youth visiting from Winnipeg, she said.

"We just to try to remind kids to be kind and to spread that kindness," Meissinger said. "Some of our students have asked to take a painted rock with them on their vacation."

The Kindness Rock Project has grown to a worldwide adventure with several websites and social media videos, she said. The Jamestown project got started with a donation of rocks from Scherbenske Inc.

"They allowed us to come and grab as many rocks as needed to start our project," Meissinger said. "The staff at the summer program then did a lesson on kindness and how spreading it will make people smile."