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Assiniboia students create Kindness rocks for garden

The collaborative project is meant to create a positive place for people to enjoy, but more importantly to connect the elderly with the youth.

ASSINIBOIA - Assiniboia Teacher, Laurie Hawkins, said she is involved with students in a project involving a kindness rock garden.

“Our goal is to paint rocks with inspiring and uplifting messages or different logos, characters, etc. to place in the rock garden beds at the town hall outdoor space. There will be a sign with a message encouraging people to take one for inspiration, share one for motivation or leave one to help the garden grow.”

The collaborative project is meant to create a positive place for people to enjoy, but more importantly to connect the elderly with the youth.

Hawkins said, “I found a project while scrolling on socials one day and thought it would be neat to do, so I took a screen shot for future reference. When school started up in the fall, I came across a post about a grant that was open to teachers. I figured this would be a perfect project as it fit in with the arts component that would allow my Grade 8 students to connect with the seniors in the community.”

The passion to action initiative is laid out in five categories: arts and culture, citizenship and activism, environmentalism, social and emotional wellbeing and truth and reconciliation. Through a grant received, Hawkins said they were able to become involved in this project.

Background information and details can be found on the website, https://passion2action.ca/connect/ 

“I was fortunate enough to be one of the 12 teachers selected for the $500 grant. Once I was awarded the opportunity, I talked with Jo-Ann Girardin about setting it up in one of the Communities in Bloom areas. At first, I thought about Central Park however after talking with Jo-Ann, we decided to put it up in front of the Alaskan Complex as it would be visible by so many more people and it was already established as a rock garden,” added Hawkins.

Local rock painting artist, Coralie Fletcher, offered advice on the type of paint and protective coating she is experienced with to help students fulfill their goals.

Hawkins also contacted recreation co-ordinator, Sandy Dansock, at Prairie Villa, and she was very enthusiastic and excited to come on board with students collaborating on this project. She ended the session with a personal thank you to the students as it means so much more than they could ever know for the residents in the Villa.

Hawkins’ students headed over on May 31, with their rocks, paint supplies, sketchbooks of ideas, and of course some cookies and juice boxes to share. They painted for nearly two hours at Prairie Villa as Sandy had everything set up for students, and created spots for the residents and students to sit together. There were about 17 residents and 24 students who participated.

“While they painted, the students and residents talked, shared ideas, and made connections. Watching the smiles on all of the faces was fantastic to see as was listening to some of the conversations and hearing the laughter. The doubt in some of the residents was quickly washed away by encouragement from the students. It was definitely a highlight in my career,” affirms the Assiniboia teacher.

Students were fully engaged, doing some prep work prior to painting day to get ideas from Facebook and Pinterest sites, generating ideas. Each student was asked to create at least two rocks, with one being something in particular but the other needed to include an inspirational quote or positive word on it. Hawkins happily acknowledges that students eagerly painted three or four.

Some of the Villa residents sent their rocks home with students, while others asked to keep them. This showed the importance of the activity to the students. “Passion to action founder and executive director, Jonah Toth joined us for the afternoon so he could capture some images and videos for the wrap up presentation,” said Hawkins.

As in usual Assiniboia fashion, Assiniboia business owner Joma Domingo, from Bean Lover Coffee Service, graciously donated product and time to make the sign for the kindness garden, with plans of having it installed before the end of the school year.

Microgrant funding received from the passtion2action youth empowerment program is a new opportunity for Saskatchewan teachers to facilitate meaningful connections for students in the local community and is the first program of its kind in the province. The collaboration with passion2action youth empowerment and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation aims to encourage renewed community engagement in schools, offer leadership development for students and encourage active citizenship in and out of the classroom

Undertaking an activity like this with students is yet another showcase of community classroom teachers’ commitment to finding ways to build citizens while engaging the classroom in unique learning opportunities that also bridges generational gaps as well as connect students with others in the community they live.