Be Kind murals going up at two NUSD schools
Be Kind murals going up at two NUSD schools
Posted on 02/13/2019
Welty Students

Lincoln students

Over 150 students at Mary L. Welty and Lincoln Elementary Schools in the Nogales Unified School District have completed the first phase of a project to erect Be Kind murals at their sites.

            The students participated in a workshop hosted by Ben’s Bells, an organization from Tucson that recognizes acts of kindness with the presentation of a bell and also helps schools and organizations create murals focusing on the Be Kind message.

            The Welty and Lincoln students, ranging from preschool to fifth graders, prepared the tiles that will be used to create the murals.  Adult volunteers, including parents and community members, will gather at each school on March 7 and 8, 2019, to install and grout the murals. The adult volunteers in teams of five individuals will work in two-hour shifts to complete the project.

            Two schools in the District, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado Elementary and Nogales High School, already have Be Kind murals, and they have proven to be an asset to the campuses, said Supt. Fernando Parra.

            NUSD Grants Director Kathy Scott said that the district received funding from a relatively new grant that, in part, promotes both the arts as well as school safety, and the NUSD Leadership Team agreed that funding two murals this year would allow students and parents, as well as community members, to work together on an art project while sharing the importance of the Be Kind message.

            The website for Ben’s Bells states the following: “The mission of Ben’s Bells is to teach individuals and communities about the positive impacts of intentional kindness and to inspire people to practice kindness as a way of life. Recent research demonstrates that kindness benefits our physical and mental health, and that recognizing kindness in others increases a person's happiness and satisfaction. But just as solving a calculus problem requires advanced math skills, the challenges of daily life require advanced kindness skills. By focusing on kindness and being intentional in our personal interactions, we can improve our ability to connect. The mission of Ben’s Bells is to inspire individuals and communities to engage in kindness education and practice.”

            An article in Inside Tucson Business reported that the effort to spread appreciation for kindness began after the death of three-year-old Ben Mare who died suddenly on March 29, 2002.  His parents, Jeannette and Dean Mare, received support from family and friends in their time of grief and wanted to acknowledge the kindness they were shown.

            “They found healing in the creative act of forming bells from clay,” the article noted, adding that Jeannette Mare started Ben’s Bells with the intention of inspiring kindness in others by hanging bells with positive notes in trees for whoever found them to pass the note to someone.

            The program exploded after receiving national recognition following the tragic shootings on Jan. 8, 2011 at a grocery store in Tucson involving Rep. Gabrielle Gifford.  Ben’s Bells volunteers hung 1,400 bells around the city. 

            The organization is now doing far more than awarding bells to individuals who contribute to the community. They started a Kind Kids program to create a culture of kindness among children and then started erecting the murals with the Be Kind message.

            “The District will continue to work and use grant funding to eventually make sure that all ten schools have the murals”, Parra said.