CHURUBUSCO — “A simple gesture can truly change someone’s day, week or even their life.”

That’s the lesson Churubusco Elementary School Principal Matthew Whonsetler hopes students will take away from a recent creative project. Kindness Rocks has given every student in the school the opportunity to paint a rock with colorful designs and messages of kindness to be placed throughout the community.

School counselor Allison Joy got the idea from another counselor she knows who had her school participate in a similar project. Kindness Rocks goes hand-in-hand with Churubusco’s Kindness Week, which was a few weeks ago. However, this project goes beyond spreading kindness within the confines of school.

“The idea behind Kindness Week was to emphasize kindness within our school, but with this project we’re hoping to teach that kindness doesn’t just exist within the walls of their school or home — that they can show kindness in the community too — so we’re hoping to share that message with the community,” Joy said.

Once students finish painting their rocks, they are outfitted with a hashtag: #CESBeKind. Students then place their rocks anywhere in the community with hopes that someone will find them and upload a picture to social media with the hashtag in the caption. The school plans to share Kindness Rocks posts on its Facebook page.

“We’re hoping for a chain-reaction effect where people find one and then they’re inspired to do something kind,” Joy said, adding that anyone who finds a rock can decide what to do with it — whether they keep it, gift it to someone or hide it in another location to be rediscovered.

“Our community has been so giving to us and has always been a huge supporter, and this is just a simple way for us to give back, spread joy and just say thanks,” Whonsetler said. “Hopefully it will also give our students that desire to be kind to others.”

The Churubusco Child Care Center donated sharpies for students to write the hashtags on their rocks, and all the rocks were donated by the Adam and Marissa Jasper family. The lessons associated with the project already seem to have rubbed off on their son, Harrison Jasper, who reminded his peers Friday that kindness is “very fun and very cool.”

Since every student has designed a rock, and some have made two each, many rocks will remain in the school’s courtyard in order to keep the tradition of kindness alive and well at Churubusco Elementary.