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Girl Scouts spread kindness at Park Avenue Elementary School

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A new installation at Park Avenue Elementary School in the North Bellmore School District is shining a light during the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, a rainbow rock garden was installed near the school’s playground. Each stone displays an inspirational message or an uplifting image, serving as a visual reminder of the importance of kindness, according to Principal Eileen Speidel.

The rocks were decorated by members of Daisy Girl Scout Troop 940 and Junior Girl Scout Troop 990, who are first and fourth grade students at Park Avenue, respectively. The idea for a “kindness rocks” garden sparked when one of the troop’s leaders, Marisa Nardo, saw a similar installation over the summer.

“It was so bright and colorful, and it really made my day,” Nardo said, “so I called Caitlin [Devine] and said ‘I have an idea for our Girl Scout troop.’”

Devine, a fellow troop leader, loved the idea. “We ordered supplies and came up with a theme — ‘be the rainbow in someone else's cloud,’” she said. “We thought it was perfect for our girls because they love all things rainbow.”

The Girl Scouts spent a few weeks painting rocks to be included in the garden. Their creations featured bright colors, eye-catching designs and positive words or messages that could turn a frown upside down. Devine and Nardo then collected the rocks and arranged them to resemble a color-coordinated rainbow.

Hirez Ink Print Shop in North Merrick donated a sign to accompany the garden, which invites other students to create their own kindness rock to add to the rainbow. “We wanted [our troops] to see how their Girl Scout activities can really impact their community,” Nardo said, “and what better place than their school?”

“Being kind is something we talk about and focus on at Park Avenue on a daily basis,” Speidel added. “Their project has shown us how to ‘be the rainbow in someone else’s cloud’, and I’m so proud of the amazing work created by the scouts and their troop leaders.”

Both troops earned their Be A Good Neighbor Badge for contributing to the project, a sentiment that’s important to remember during unprecedented times. “We hope that this garden will give children inspiration, courage and joy,” Nardo said.

“If anyone is having a bad day, they can look at the rocks and it will help cheer them up,” Devine added.