St Louis Park, MN

"Kindness in chalk: one sidewalk, one message, one million smiles"

A school in Wisconsin has their students decorate the playground with kind words. (Credit: Nicki Brunner)

Bullying. It is everywhere and can have a powerful impact. Because of this, our community started Kindness in Chalk, an anti-bullying movement, which takes place every October (National Anti-Bullying Month). In 2014, I posted the idea on my local Minneapolis blog. The word spread like wildfire and 76 schools nationwide participated in it, followed by 300 schools the next year. Kindness in Chalk started small at our tiny elementary school in St. Louis Park. Parents, teachers, and students go outside on Kindness in Chalk Day and douse the school sidewalks with words of encouragement, peace, and acceptance — providing smiles to those who need it most using plain ol’ sidewalk chalk and creativity. Businesses, parks, and trails get covered in kind words; the whole community enjoys spreading love in the simplest fashion. It is now known nationwide, proof that kindness always wins and spreading it doesn’t need to be difficult to be impactful.

Every year we do this event, I hear an outpouring of stories from teachers, principals, parents, and even some of the kids. I receive hundreds of photos of the sidewalk messages, kids writing and laughing together, and (my favorite) them looking down and reading the words written by people in their community and looking up with a HUGE smile on their face because they just read something uplifting and beautiful that they may not have heard in a while. “You are smart.” “We are proud of you.” “Never give up.” “We are more alike than different.” The communities get creative and it’s one of my favorite days of the year to be on my computer watching the words and images roll in.

A group of students show off their spirit-raising artwork. (Credit: Nicki Brunner)

I get notes from teachers like this:

“The project was a huge success! We have had so many comments in the office about how people feel better and happy this morning. Thank you for taking the time to do this. It put a smile on a lot of faces.”

Or from parents like this:

“We homeschool, but I plan on having our kids write kind words on our drive way. Definitely going to share this. Keep fighting the good fight.”

A mom spends her afternoon spreading kindness at a local park near her home. (Credit: Nicki Brunner)

Or from students like this:

“It makes you feel kind of appreciated. It made me feel better when I walked in to school. Somebody spent their time doing it. It was pretty cool.”

Kids at the school in St Louis Park spend the morning decorating the sidewalk with chalk. (Credit: Nicki Brunner)

The principal at my son’s school, where it all started, looks forward to it every year and says she can feel the mood in the school the week of the event be one of happiness and confidence.

Shelly Nielsen, the first principal to get on board with the movement, poses with a parent. (Credit: Nicki Brunner)

The best way to see a demonstration of how nice people are is to peruse the photos of the event and read the comments on the social media pages. Searching #KindnessInChalk is always super inspiring to look at when you’re having a bad day. Here’s a nice link to a page we built for people around the country to submit their Kindness in Chalk photos.

Sidewalk decorated in kind words. (Credit: Nicki Brunner)

Maple Grove Schools Promote Kindness in Chalk