Instead of bullying, these kids are sharing kind words to each oth

Natalie Gardner likes to draw, but she had no idea her classmates thought she was a good artist.

It was one of the compliments written on a whiteboard behind Gardner as the 10-year-old R.F. Pettigrew fourth-grader took her turn participating in the #SpreadTheLoveProject.

Gardner sat in a chair facing away from the white board, and her classmates came up in groups of twos and threes to write a positive word or phrase describing her.

When everyone had written their kind words, Gardner turned around and read all of the messages. Some students wrote that she was a hard worker and a good artist. Others called her smart, clever and loyal.

“They definitely had some really good compliments,” Gardner said.

The whole process took about five minutes, and students who weren’t in the “hot seat” were working quietly as soft music played in the room.

Cathie Vortherms, Gardner’s teacher, decided to bring the Spread the Love Project into her classroom after R.F. Pettigrew faculty took part in the project last week.

“Kids need to know the good things about themselves,” Vortherms said.

And she sees the month of valentines as the perfect time to share those positive messages.

After each student took their turn, Vortherms took a photo of them standing in front of their wall of kind words. Those photos will be shared with parents during conferences in the coming days.

Gardner said the project also left her feeling good about her classmates and happy to make them feel good about themselves as well.

“They don’t know who’s writing it,” Gardner said. “But they know one of those words was from you.”