Nittany Pause Rocks available at the Occupational Therapy House for the taking

OTA students demonstrate the power of kindness in time for World Kindness Day


In recognition of World Kindness Day on November 13, Penn State Mont Alto Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students invite members of the campus and greater community to come to the OTA herb garden behind Residence B and choose or share #nittanypauserocks – colorfully painted rocks with uplifting messages.

“Select your #nittanypauserock. Hold space for it. Ponder it. And listen for the soft roar. This is the Mindful Nittany Pause,” said Angela Hissong, OTA program director.

Hissong, who has incorporated the #nittanypauserock project into the teaching-learning process of OTA students, said it will help them explore and actively engage in the intentional relationship and therapeutic use of self in practice.

“It is through this centered engagement that the students come to deeply understand how lovingkindness and compassion encourages the mind, body, and spirit to thrive, a practice that is also critical for the healing and well-being of occupational therapy patients,” said Hissong.

World Kindness Day is observed around the world and highlights good deeds in the community, focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness that binds all of us.

“It is very therapeutic to make the rocks, and the thought of bringing a smile to someone else’s face makes me even happier. It is of great importance to be encouraging and uplifting to people with all of the negativity that seems to follow some people. I also think that it is such a simple concept that instead of material possessions, something as simple as a rock with a heartfelt message, can have such a positive impact on people of all ages.” — Mandy Christine Cook

Hissong points to happiness researcher Sean Achor who has demonstrated through extensive research individuals who perform random acts of kindness for two minutes a day for twenty-one days, can retrain their brains to be more positive and, thereby, help them to be more creative, intelligent and productive.

“Being an OTA is all about being there for someone in a time of need. Being that support and encouragement for someone. As an OTA practitioner, I need to be positive, kind, and uplifting for my clients, which is also what the #nittanypauserocks symbolize.” — Kasey Sydnor

As part of community outreach and service learning, the OTA students collaborated with Donna Rhodes, student activities and program development coordinator, and others to paint the #nittanypauserocks during Sunday afternoons in the Wiestling Student Center.

“Living Life to its Fullest™ is best when infused with compassion and kindness. The purpose of this project is meant not only to teach our students but also to facilitate collaborations across the campus and greater community through the wonders of kindness and compassion with the making and sharing of the #nittanypauserocks,” said Hissong.

This project mirrors The Kindness Rocks Project™, a compassion initiative with the idea that one message at the right moment can change someone’s day, their outlook, and indeed, their whole life. The #nittanypauserocks include a wide range of messaging, such as gratitude, affirmations, encouragement, and offers of hope – all signposts along the way for someone to find the right message at exactly the right time.

“Although life is full of hustle and bustle, there will always be times of serenity and grace. All it takes is for us to stop, open our minds, and look at what’s right in front of us whether it’s something big or small. Life is not meant to pass us by. It is meant to be savored, enjoyed, and appreciated.” — Karen Vallo