MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — We choose kindness: That’s the message students from Marshall County High School want to spread with a new 8- by 12-foot mural.

The project is student-led. It comes after the tragedy that struck their community when two lives were taken in a shooting in Marshall County High School.

The artists say the three painted hands in the “We Choose Kindness” mural symbolizes people coming together to choose kindness over anything else.

“I hope that people can understand that being nice is really easy,” project creator Hallie Riley says.

Riley says she was going through some tough times after the unthinkable happened in her own school.

She wrote about what she went through, but it wasn’t enough. She’s bringing those words and ideas to life.

Riley chose from 60 mural entries, and “We Choose Kindness” stood out to her.

“I think that when they see this, they should see the hands stand out,” Riley says. “You should hold hands, and kind of join all together, and be really friendly toward one another.”

They will mount the mural at the Kindness Garden with benches to sit at. It will all be handcrafted by students.

“The bench just kind of means if someone sits there, you know, they’re having a rough day,” Riley says. “You don’t have to say anything to them, you don’t have to acknowledge it. You just sit there with them, and that person that is going through something knows ‘Hey, they’re there for me.'”

Artist Kijsa Housman is helping with the project. She says, with the power of social media, the mural will have an even bigger impact.

“Why not spread the message of ‘We Choose Kindness’ beyond the walls of the Kindness Garden in Benton, Kentucky?” Housman asks. “Spread it to the ends of the state, to the ends of the nation. You know you can’t have too much kindness.”

Riley says to be kind to everyone. You never know what they’re going through. “It’s much harder to be mean than it is to be nice,” she says.

The students expect to complete their final touches on the mural Friday.

Look out for the mural within the next couple of months, across the street from the Marshall County Art Center.

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