Pelham students hope to generate smiles with painted rocks
Kindergarten students at St. Alexander Catholic Elementary School in Pelham hope to bring smiles to people’s faces in their community.
All-day kindergarten teacher Tracy Goodwin said each of the children in her class, as well as the school’s other all-day kindergarten class, painted and then drew or wrote positive images and words on rocks before placing them near Pelham Public Library, the post office, town square and surrounding areas.
Forty children painted one rock each and some of the teachers did, too, making about 50 rocks now left for finding in the community.
“We let them pick whatever they want (to paint) to make people happy,” Goodwin explained of the Smile Rocks project, which the two classes started last week.
She said the children, aged three to five, wrote things such as “I love you” or painted happy faces, hearts or crosses to represent their faith.
She described it like placing Easter eggs — putting the rocks in strategic places so they don’t get in the way or cause problems, but visible enough so people can find them.
“If someone finds them, the idea is you’re supposed to smile and they can either move it somewhere else, or they can make some at home and replace it, or they can just leave it there,” she said.
The main goal is to bring a little joy to people’s days. Goodwin said they hope the project — similarly ongoing in Port Colborne — will spread beyond what it already has. She said, for instance, the Grade 8 students at the school will be painting and taking rocks with them on their annual retreat to leave along the trails.
Goodwin said the children have loved the project, and they’ve also been able to learn about the community in the process as they did the walk around to place the rocks.
At the end of the month, a few student ambassadors will be heading to Pelham town council to share the rocks with Mayor Dave Augustyn and councillors.
Goodwin said the idea came from similar initiatives in the United States, which early childhood educator Erika Bachynski, who co-teaches Goodwin’s class, had seen online. The two decided it would be a great project to do with the kids; soon after, the other kindergarten class, led by Cathy Savage and Diane Hamilton, jumped on board as well.
The rocks have all been placed in the community, and the kids are making more to take home with them, but beyond that, Goodwin said she isn’t sure if it’s a one-time thing or whether the group will do it again.