Sticks and stones can break your bones, but rocks can make you happy. Ok, this isn’t exactly how the saying goes, but when it comes to the Kindness Rocks project it is completely accurate. The Kindness Rocks project has taken something simple and unassuming and is using them to spread love and kindness to anyone willing to take a moment to stop and read the rocks.
The premise is simple, take a rock and either paint it, decorate it, or simply write a word or phrase of encouragement and leave it for others to find. What started as a simple idea in 2015 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has turned into an international movement to spread words of kindness and inspiration, and has made its way to Apex.
After observing the people around her, Apex resident, Stacey Nance, decided that her neighbors could use some words of encouragement and love. “Every morning I would notice kids waiting at their bus stop, walking to school, or waiting in their carpool line and they look like they had the weight of the world on their little shoulders. I then noticed how many people are constantly glued to their cellphones, checking their social media accounts, and rarely interacted with one another. I had read about kindness rocks in a magazine and fell in love with the idea. After a few Pinterest and internet searches, I knew this was something we needed to spread around our town of Apex,” Stacey said. With the help of social media sites like Facebook and NextDoor, Stacey began to get the word out about the Apex Kindness Rocks Project. She began hosting gatherings and rock painting events for families and anyone else who wanted to be a part of this new project. “It became a great way to spend time with family, meet new friends, give back to the community, and add a little extra sparkle to our town.”
The idea of spreading positivity and kindness is growing in popularity. Within the last year, the Apex Kindness Rocks Facebook page has grown to over 1,000 members. Although the rocks can be found throughout Apex, including in parks, neighborhoods and shopping centers, Stacey thought it was important to have a central location for all to enjoy. “The town’s Mayor, Lance Olive, town’s Manager, Drew Havens, and Town Ambassador, JC Knowles, have all been very supportive and graciously designated part of the Ambassador’s Garden for the Apex Community Rock Garden,” Stacey said. The Apex Community Garden is located at the corner of North Salem Street and Saunders Street. “The rock garden is the only place where you are able to find, leave, and view kindness rocks throughout the year and without looking. People are encouraged to paint their own rock, leave it there, and help the garden grow for everyone to stop by and enjoy.”
The rules are simple, make sure the paintings and decorations are kid-friendly, keep them outside, place them in a safe area where they won’t cause physical harm or property damage, and do not trespass on private property. Let your imagination run wild! Not only are the kindness rocks good for the soul, but they also serve as an educational tool for parents to help young children understand kindness and giving. Stacey also points out that painting and decorating the rocks “is a great activity to help promote children’s creativity, fine motor skills, and community involvement and awareness. It can be done anywhere and costs very little with supplies many already have at home.” Many of the local crafting stores also offer free rock painting classes and sell kits that include all of the supplies needed to build a collection. In addition to the rocks themselves, many Apex residents have also donated paints, paint supplies and rocks for others to decorate for the downtown garden. This is a way for those that want to show their support, but are unable to participate themselves.
The Kindness Rocks Project has spread beyond rock gardens and has become a part of wedding celebrations for area brides. In November of 2017, Jennifer Picarella and her husband, Daniel, decided to incorporate the idea of “Love Rocks” on their wedding day. The thought was to spread and share the love they have for each other with all who find them. They also served as a reminder of their special day for family and friends who were in attendance. By including a hashtag, Jennifer and Daniel are able to keep up with those that come across the reminders of their special day on social media.
It’s no secret that the world we live in could use a little kindness. In a world filled with fear and anger, it is comforting to think that something as insignificant as a rock can help spread love and help to uplift those that need it the most. Take the time to appreciate the wonders around you, and if you can, stop and read the writing on the rocks.