Rocks of Unity founder Alexa Zappia of St. John Fisher College shared the story behind her program and it great reach Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“I started just about a year ago,” said Zappia. “So January 2017, and it came from actually a tragedy. So I was very close with a woman named Susan. And when I was 12 years old, Susan passed away in the Flight 3407 plane crash. And, so when you’re 12, how do you comprehend such a tragedy? And what I wanted to do was, she was all about the cross-cultural dialogue and co-existence, and going into different communities and really spreading an outreach. A positive outreach at that. So since 12 years old, I have carried on her legacy through volunteerism, things like that. So I wanted to start an initiative that carried on her legacy in a bigger sense, and with that came Rocks of Unity. A rock and a Sharpie has changed my life believe it or not!”

Zappia explained how Rocks of Unity works. “I go into different communities, schools, camps, working with adults, kids, community centers, religious centers. It doesn’t matter. My youngest was 3, and my oldest was 80. So it ranges, it’s a wide range from there. But I go and speak on the concept of diversity and difference, and the importance of it and then each participant is given a garden stone and they decorate it to represent themselves. And then all of those are placed in a community garden, and you’re able to see the diversity within one organization. And so since I started just a year ago – literally a little over a year ago – It started in one school in Buffalo, which is my hometown and its grown to an outreach of over 17 different countries, and 25 different states. I work with celebrities, and I created a branch of this called ‘Rocks of Unity Rock Stars’ where celebrities endorse what I do. They send me a decorated rock, and you can’t tell which ones are celebrity rocks, and which ones aren’t, because I think that kindness, and acceptance, and the diversity, and all of that are human values, and they are not decided based on your social status.”

Zappia had the opportunity to present Rocks of Unity during a taping of the Harry Connick, Jr. show. You can find out more about Rocks of Unity by check it out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or on the web, click here.