Northeast cheer squad spreads positivity

Published 7:39 pm Monday, October 16, 2017

PINETOWN — The cheerleading team at Northeast Elementary School has made it its mission to spread kindness and positivity.

Teacher and cheerleading coach Melissa Nelson sparked the idea for this mission earlier this year, starting with cheerleading practices over the summer.

“I have started encouraging them to take part in a service project each nine weeks,” Nelson said. “I kind of used the summer to gauge things that are important to them.”

The cheerleading team decided on the Kindness Rocks Project, which has recently taken the nation — Beaufort County included — by storm. Volunteers paint rocks and decorate them with kind or uplifting sayings, then leave them around town for others to find. Whoever finds a “kindness rock” must then move it to another location for someone else to discover.

After talking with her team, Nelson said it soon became apparent that the cheerleaders wanted to find a way to foster a support system within Northeast Elementary, not only with their peers, but also with the younger grades.

“I have seen the cheerleaders take a sense of ownership, which has been great to see the sense of responsibility,” Nelson said. “Middle school is such a hard age.”

Nelson said she has seen her own daughter be positively affected by “kindness rocks,” and with all of the negativity in today’s society, it was important to her and the team to spread some kindness.

“To see (my daughter’s) face light up over something that was so simple, it was kind of a no brainer that this is something we needed to do,” she said.

The cheerleaders decorated and left the rocks around the school campus. A student favorite is one rock labeled with “dab,” referencing a dance move made famous by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Nelson said she and her cheerleading captains took the “kindness rocks” around to local businesses as a way to get the community involved, as well. Teachers at Northeast have also chimed in with ideas on other potential service projects for the team.

Nelson said she is hoping to begin a partnership in the near future with the Ronald McDonald House to collect household items for those families with children battling cancer. For now, though, the rocks have captured the school’s attention.

“It’s just been a good outlet,” Nelson said.

GIRLS ON A MISSION: Northeast Elementary’s cheerleading team has made spreading positivity one of its goals. Most recently, the team painted and dispersed “kindness rocks.”