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#NECCRocks the Rock

Submitted by on October 1, 2019 – 2:44 pm
a batch of colorfully painted kindness rocks.

Kindness Rocks are drawing attention on campus.

When is a rock more than a rock?

When it is a Kindness Rock. And, if you look closely, while you are walking across campus, you just might find one. The Haverhill and Lawrence campuses just became a little friendlier and a lot brighter thanks to Northern Essex PACE students and others who have created dozens of Kindness Rocks and hid them in plain sight for others to find.

The idea, while not a new concept, was introduced to the NECC campus by Pathways to Academic and Career Excellence (PACE) director Kristen Arnold as a fun open house activity.

"Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti" written on Kindness Rock“A few years ago I took my daughter to the local library and she found a kindness rock. It made her so, so happy. Yet it was such a small thing, “Arnold said. “I thought why not try it. It’s inexpensive, makes people happy, and builds community.”

Turns out, she was right. During Welcome Week this September, PACE arranged a table filled with rocks, bottles of acrylic paint, paint pens, and markers. Students from all programs gravitated toward the table creating designs, images, and inspirational messages to share with others. Rocks carry messages like “Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti,” “Believe to Achieve,” and “Be Yourself”.

Part stress reliever, part icebreaker, Arnold says, you could see the painters visibly relax as they created. Once the rocks, which she bought in bulk, were painted, PACE staff treated them with a sealant, so the paint colors don’t run. The rocks were hidden by the students inside building and along the cement walls.

“They don’t hide them in the grass, on walkways, or on roadways at the request of facilities,” she said."Be Yourself" painted on Kindness Rock.

Finders don’t necessarily become keepers, she added. Once a rock is found, there is a message on its underside instructing the finder to either keep it or re hide it and post a photo of it on the #NECCRocks Instagram and Facebook pages.

“It’s been cool to see where these rocks show up,” Arnold said.

For additional information contact Arnold at

PACE is a Student Support Services program funded by a TRiO grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Students are eligible for PACE if they are a first-generation college student and they meet federal financial guidelines.