What are Peace Pebbles?
Well, you know when you toss a stone in water it has a ripple effect. Peace pebbles are symbols or the ripple effect we have on the people we meet.
Shortly after the tragic events that happened on September 11, 2001, I began working on developing a program that taught kindness. Peace Pebbles began as part of that program. I called it Pass It On. I didn’t know where it would take me, I just knew that I needed to do something so i just continued working on it.
One day in 2003, my two grandsons, Christopher & Cody, asked me to teach an options class at their school, a local elementary school. Options was a day community members would teach a class about a fun, interesting topic. The students could pick several topics from the wide array of options. They would then go to the options instead of their regular classes.
I agreed to teach a class on being a peacemaker and acts of kindness. I called it Pass It On. The students that participated enjoyed it so much, I received permission to continue the program during the lunch hour several times a month.
One of the projects that I did with the students was Peace Pebbles. I sewed little bags and put in three polished river stones in each bag. I told a story, we talked about values and acts of kindness and the ripple effect they have. Then I passed out the bags containing the Peace Pebbles. You can download all of the activities for the peace pebbles below.
If your kids were anything like mine were when they were young, you know how valuable stones can be. My daughters loved to collects stones. We had bags of them.
The students were no different. They loved their little polished river rocks. But the value of them took on a whole new meaning when I told them what they were going to do with them. They were so excited!
Pass It On just grew from there. Before I knew it, I was sewing hundreds of little bags to put the peace pebbles into. Whenever I had extra money, I would buy more polished river stones and material to make more bags. I just kept giving them away. Whenever we traveled, I would go to the local church youth group or school and present the program to the students. I left them all over New York City; on the subway, at the 911 Memorial, on park benches.
Make a Difference Day in 2005, I sponsored a project to have people help to make the little bags. A local sewing shop, Sew ’N Save, let me use their sewing classroom for the day. Volunteers could bring in their sewing machines and sew the bags for the peace pebbles. I also sponsored an essay/art contest. Students of all ages were invited to write a story or draw a picture about an act of kindness and how it made a difference in their life. Students were given two gift cards, one to keep and one to pass on to someone else.
To read a newspaper article, Making a Difference, written by Michael Burke and published in the Racine Journal Times on October 23, 2005, CLICK HERE.
Since I started Pass It On and the Peace Pebbles, I have given out thousands of little, shiny, polished river stones. In the beginning, each bag contained three Peace Pebbles. Within a short time, I increased the amount to 13 Peace Pebbles in each bag so the kids could get a better understanding of the impact that their acts of kindness had on other people. Eventually, I had several caring, generous volunteers to help me by sewing the bags for the Peace Pebbles.
Pass It On lead me, along with several other people, to starting a nonprofit, educational organization in 2006. Our mission was to promote a culture of peace to youth and communities. I was the Executive Director until 2017. During that time, over 9000 students participated in programs based on Pass It On and and the Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. We taught lessons on how to resolve conflict without hurting others, values, compassion, teamwork, empathy, and communication skills. Peace Pebbles were always the final lesson on the last day with the students. They were always a favorite activity.
To read more about my journey from September 11, 2001 to the present in my blog post, A Peacemaker’s Journey, CLICK HERE.
In the past several years, I have been painting the Peace Pebbles, along with my grandchildren. We decided to add them to the front yard so we could share them with anyone going past the house.
I found a metal sign at a local craft store and painted it. I also bought a large plastic tray at the garden center. My grandson, Chris, drilled a few holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain. We dug out some dirt and put the tray in the ground and filled it with the painted Peace Pebbles.
Anyone that is going past our house is invited to take a Peace Pebble. They can also paint their own and put them in the tray to add to the mix and share with others. We are continuing to Pass It On.
There is a valuable lesson that goes with the Peace Pebbles. It begins with an important question, and continues with a story about a woman and her stone, followed by a discussion about what is really valuable in life. Is it gold? Precious gems? Silver? Finally, kids do the math and are amazed at how many people are actually impacted by their single act of kindness.
If you would like to download the free activity guide including the story,The Wise Woman’s Stone, just SIGN UP HERE.
P.S. If you would like more information on how you can bring Pass It On to your class, youth group, church group, etc., just email me at email@example.com.
P.P.S. As always, I welcome your comments, suggestions, and ideas below!