Parent paints messages on school bathroom walls to inspire students

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HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- When you hear someone say, "I saw it written on a bathroom wall," what goes through your mind? I bet it's not the inspirational quotes now painted on the bathroom walls of Chickahominy Middle School in Hanover County.

These murals came from the artistic mind of local artist Kristin Donaldson. The parent volunteer spent her summer painting inspirational messages inside several Hanover, Chesterfield, and Henrico schools.

"It's something simple.  Maybe it catches you off guard.  I mean, you walk into a restroom and see something encouraging.  It can make a difference for a child," she said.

The tests, the social anxiety; it can be tough for some kids. Studies show inspirational quotes and art can help children relax and focus.

"If you feel good in that moment, you go into your next class feeling better. You'll try harder. You'll be kind to that person who maybe wasn't so kind to you," Donaldson said.

Kristin’s kids helped her pick some of the quotes.

Her son Alex is a sixth grade student at Chickahominy.

"I picked, 'Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game,'" he said. " I think that means if you maybe do bad on a test or something, then maybe next time you're not scared.  You just study harder next time.”

Her daughter Suzanne, an eighth grade student, was skeptical at first.

But after helping her mom with the paintings, she can see they’re making an impact on other students.

"It doesn't change their whole life per se, because it's just a little quote," she said. "It makes them happy for one minute which might make them have a better week.  I think it's had a really positive outcome."

"Negativity can be contagious," Kristin said. "Positivity can be contagious. If we can have something positive, something kind, and can share that on... I think that's a great thing."

Rob Cardwell's Building Better Minds reports air Wednesdays at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Let Rob know here if there is a student, teacher, or school staff member in your community that you would like to see featured in a future Building Better Minds report.

"Building Better Minds" with Rob Cardwell -- Wednesdays on CBS 6 News at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

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