When Megan Murphy, a life coach from Massachusetts, lost her parents, she struggled with handling the loss. Beginning to paint and write kind messages on rocks, and then leaving them on the beach and in people’s gardens near her home, helped her through this loss and started a movement that has swept the country by storm. For the first year, she created and gifted these “Kindness Rocks” anonymously, but eventually began an Instagram account and social media presence, using the hashtag #thekindnessrocksproject, which helped the idea spread rapidly.
This initial movement has, in turn, spawned many side movements, with most geographic areas having a Facebook group dedicated to the spread of kindness rocks within their communities. Each group has their own little tags they use to mark their rocks, which direct the finders towards the online communities, so that the images and stories can be posted and shared.
Winston-Salem has its very own community on Facebook, titled “Winston-Salem Rocks!” (“W-S Rocks”). With the tag written on the underside of all rocks shared by members being, “Post Pic to [FB] Winston Salem Rocks, Keep or Hide,” there is a plethora of photos shared by people throughout the Winston-Salem community of rocks they have found. Not only can this be a great stress reliever through the physical act of painting the rocks, and a morale booster for the individual to find the rocks; it is a great way to bond with your family and fellow humans. Painting rocks as a family is a unique way to encourage empathy and kindness in children through art.
When asked what type of impact this kindness rock movement and community has had on their lives, the responses from members were overwhelming. One member expressed her deep gratitude for a rock that she still has in her possession. While traveling to and from Wilmington to take care of her brother who was battling lung cancer, she found this rock at her hotel after a long day of shuttling from one appointment to another. She states, “…not the most beautiful rock, probably painted by a child. It made me smile and cry. I still have it and [it] reminds me of my brother when I see it.”
Another member shares an uplifting story about how her son’s day was completely turned around by the discovery of a painted rock. After coming home from a rough day at school, where he was being made fun of by another child, he was feeling extremely low. When she took him to the grocery store he noticed, “lying on the side of a bench, a rock that proclaimed, ‘You are special.’ His sadness went away immediately!” With stories such as these, who wouldn’t want to be part of this movement?
This begs the question: How does one get involved? It’s as easy as grabbing a few rocks and painting them! You can pick up river rocks at most outdoor or hardware stores, or you can even remove them from your own yard. Using acrylic paint, add whatever design and wording you want to the entire rock. While you can buy acrylic paint pens relatively inexpensively at any craft store, a Sharpie works just as well. Writing inspirational sayings, or even a simple, “You are enough,” on the front of the rock, don’t forget to add the “W-S ROCKS” tag on the back. Also don’t forget to seal the rock to maintain its design in any weather by adding a layer of decoupage glue or acrylic sealing spray. Hide it anywhere in a public space and make some more to hide again. Now that you know about this great movement, you will always be on the lookout for rocks wherever you go!