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New rock garden promotes kindness
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Students from Fair Street International Academy and the Brenau University College of Education place kindness rocks in a rock garden outside the Brenau Center for Health and Well-Being on Friday, April 13, 2018. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University) - photo by AJ Reynolds

Tresure Demory might have been impressed with the police escort that led him and a hundred other fellow fifth-graders on a walk from Fair Street Elementary to the Brenau University campus Friday morning.

But the real highlight came when he added his own painted rock with a Pokémon design at the Kindness Rock Garden dedication.

“That was really cool,” Demory said.

Sharing the joy that makes one happy is what the rock garden is all about, officials from Fair Street and Brenau said.

Nina Forest, a special education teacher at Fair Street, said it was important for her students to join in as a matter of camaraderie.

“It’s just about connecting with the other students,” she said.

Hundreds of stones, smoothed by water or carving, were painted with happy pictures and encouraging words: love, persistence, hope, strong as a lightning storm.

Located outside the Center for Health and Well-being at the corner of Boulevard and Brenau avenues, the rock garden is designed to foster kindness in the community and adds one more layer to a burgeoning public art scene.

The joint effort between Fair Street and Brenau, who share a tiger as a mascot, stems from a project developed by Megan Murphy, a mother of three daughters and a Women’s Empowerment Coach in Massachusetts. For more information, visit

Bringing the project home to Gainesville was an opportunity to teach students the power of kindness.

“Respect yourself and respect others,” said Tracy Troutman, an art teacher at Fair Street. “That’s about kindness.”

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