Jamestown Rocks! The Kindness Rocks Project

Article Contributed by
Mallery Rockwell

The Kindness Rocks Project is a National project created to spread kindness and inspiration throughout the world. Megan Murphy started the project in July of 2015 in Massachusetts during her routine morning stroll along the beach. She felt inspired to paint five rocks, and left them on the sand without telling anyone what she had done. That night, her friend texted her a picture of one of the painted rocks she had found. Murphy said her friend knew that she took walks on the beach and may have recognized her handwriting, but Murphy denied being the creator. Murphy’s friend wanted her to know that if she had dropped the rock, it made her day. And so, The Kindness Rocks Project began.

The Start of Something Beautiful
From that point on, the motivational rocks have spread all over the world. After finding the rocks, discoverers can re-hide them, replace them and/or take them with to keep or to share. Covering the rocks with a coat of sealer is necessary to prevent them from getting ruined.

The rocks have been spread throughout the region, including places like Jamestown, Frewsburg, Bemus Point, Mayville, Erie, Dunkirk and Westfield. People are encouraged to write where they’re from on the backs of the rocks to see where they originated and how far they’ve traveled.

“I think children are learning that positivity can go a long way, and to me that’s what it’s all about,” Heather Courtney, a local Kindness Rocks organizer said. “It’s a good feeling to see the kids’ pictures with their smiles and holding rocks.” Courtney said she was thrilled when somebody found a rock she had painted and loved it so much that they decided to keep it.

Heather Courtney started the JamestownNYRocks Facebook group in July of this year. She heard about The Kindness Rocks Project during a meeting and decided to start the page for Jamestown to help bring the community together. The Facebook page is designated for people to join so they can share pictures and stories of rocks found around the Jamestown area. Since July, the group has over 2,000 members and continues to grow. The group is associated with a hash tag so people can easily share pictures with #JamestownNYRocks.

“I think it’s just so important because it is a positive in our community that seems to be struggling as of late,” Courtney said. “It’s important to teach kids how to give back and what it feels like to make someone else happy and give them something to do besides all of the negativity that’s out there.”

Smiling Faces
Laurie Wilkins is one of the main administrators of JamestownNYRocks. She said she is excited about the positive impact the project has had on the community. “A lot of families are getting out and exploring Jamestown more and painting instead of sitting in front of a computer or the TV,” Wilkins said.

“We just want the kids to be happy, and the adults too. We’re just trying to uplift Jamestown. It’s just a rock, but yet if you look on our page and see all these kids’ smiling faces it makes your day.” Wilkins said extra rocks are being hidden at Bergman Park because of the Labor Day Festival referred to as ‘Flood Bergman Park.’ Dates are put on the rocks to ensure that everyone knows about the activity.

Allison Slagle is a member of JamestownNYRocks and has been involved with the Jamestown School District as a substitute teacher, after-school program coordinator and a Parent Teacher Association mom. “The message behind The Kindness Rocks Project is to leave a little positivity on a normally ignored object¬–a rock,” Slagle said. “In the age of technology and hyper-focus on cell phones it has really helped our members detach and open their eyes to nature and adventure.”

Much of the excitement stems from finding rocks when it’s least expected. Pictures of rocks with clever and inspiring messages like ‘Be boulder’ and ‘You can move mountains’ have been posted on the JamestownNYRocks Facebook page, along with colorful pictures of realistic pizzas and detailed owls.

School Rocks!
Many optional events have been created for the Facebook group members to integrate rock exploration with fun events downtown such as Lucy Fest. “We tested it out with an event that flooded downtown with ‘I love Lucy’ rocks and comedy-inspired painted rocks for our out-of-town guests to find and keep as a memento,” Slagle said.

Slagle created the event, ‘School “Rocks!”’ August 26 – September 9. The community is encouraged to paint various ‘school positive’ messages onto rocks, or tape the rocks with small school supplies like pencils and erasers. Contributors are asked to leave rocks near schools, churches, playgrounds and other areas where children are likely to be.

“As I was gathering my Kindergarteners school supplies,” Slagle added, “I thought to myself, ‘how can we turn this into something that physically can help kids?’ Some of the children in our community struggle to buy school supplies for school or at home and this leads to struggling academically.”

This idea helps students who may be unprepared and feel bummed out about returning to school. “Often the end of summer turns to dread for these students and we decided to pair positive back-to-school messages and try to give out a small school supply for the students to collect,” Slagle said. “We want all kids to be prepared and excited about education!”

The Parks Department asks the community not to place rocks in the Veteran’s Park. All other parks have been approved as long as rocks aren’t put in the grass where they might be run over by lawnmowers, damaging both them and the rock.

The Kindness Rocks Project website provides a map with markers placed all over the world in US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, Brazil and more: http://thekindnessrocksproject.com/home.