“The best way to live your life is to be kind and nice to people,” said Isabella, age 9. “Everybody has good days and bad days, but kind people are the best kind of people, and that’s how I want to be.”
Powerful words from a young girl, one of 1,000 children between 5 and 18 years old who participated in Kindness Rocks, a Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan sponsored project in San Diego County earlier this year. Collaborating with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego, Blue Shield Promise implemented the project, which focused on building mental health resilience and practicing kindness, in more than 19 clubs in March.
“This was an expansion of a pilot program we launched in November 2021 with the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside and The North County LGBTQ Resource Center,” explained Patricia King, community engagement manager, San Diego County. “The Kindness Rocks pilot successfully taught children how kindness can positively impact them and others in their community, and it helped build their mental health resilience. Those results convinced us we should quickly scale the program and expand throughout San Diego County,” she said.
Children from across the county and from different age groups learned about practicing kindness through two hands-on activities. The first was designing and painting two rocks based on a kindness curriculum that focused on the themes of Inspire, Empower, Implement, and Reflect. Staff members at each club taught the curriculum and led this activity in English and Spanish. Children crafted one rock for themselves and one rock to give to someone else or to place in a rock garden at their club site. For their second activity, children played a month-long Bingo game that required 30 days of engagement and taught good health habits and mental health resilience skills.
“This was a great experience for the kids,” said Lupe Tran, Boys and Girls Club branch manager, Ron Roberts branch. “They sat as a group and talked about what it means to be kind. Once they finished painting their rocks, they shared their inspirational words and decided as a group to place their rocks in the garden. My favorite inspirational message was, ‘Be you. The world will adjust.’
Now they’ve created their own Kindness Club, and they invite children to grab a rock from the garden to lift their spirits if they’re having a bad day!”
Children had a lot to say about their experience, too. Here are thoughts from three participants:
- Max, age 7: “Sometimes kids are mean, but maybe that’s because they don’t know how to be nice. Being nice means saying kind things to people and being their friend. I want to be everybody’s friend.
- Rodrigo, age 10: “My rock says, ‘Never give up.’ Sometimes I want to give up on things because they’re too hard, but I put my rock right outside my class so I can see it. If I see my rock, it’ll remind me never to give up, even if things are hard.”
- Kaitlyn, age 11: “I made two rocks, and initially I was going to take one rock home. I wrote ‘Love’ on one rock and ‘You’re beautiful just the way you are’ on the other. I decided to keep both of my rocks at the Boys and Girls Club so the rest of the kids could remember that they’re loved and beautiful.”