The #kindnessrocks movement has taken off as people practice social distancing.

By Emily VanSchmus
April 16, 2020
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As we stay home and practice safe social distancing, the uncertain times can be pretty overwhelming (not to mention lonely). For that reason, people are chalking sidewalks with uplifting messages (and insanely detailed drawings), and families around the country are putting rainbows in their windows to bring joy to their neighbors. And this week, we discovered another small way to put a smile on someone’s face: Painted rocks. Yes, the same painted rocks we used to make as kids, but this time decorated with positive messages and inspirational words. Many are decorated with words of thanks for healthcare workers and first responders who are on the front lines fighting the virus.

Here’s how it works: Grab a few rocks from your backyard, some paint, and a brush, then let the creative juices flow! If crafts aren't normally your thing, you can order a painting kit online to start decorating. This Rock Painting Kit, $12.99, Target, comes with rocks, paints, and brushes, so you can get started without scouring your home for supplies. Once your rocks are painted (and totally dry), leave them outside where people will see them as they walk past.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts resident Megan Murphy started @thekindnessrocksproject several years ago as a way to spread extra joy, and is now using the platform to send hopeful messages during the new coronavirus pandemic and inspire others to make their own. She explained that the movement has shifted a bit due to the current safety concerns. "I have asked that people refrain from leaving the messages randomly because we are unsure of how long the coronavirus germs can remain on rocks," she explains. "Rather, we have asked people to share their inspiration on social media, or if they plan to spread them in their neighborhood to wipe them with Clorox wipes prior to giving them away."

Sara Rainsford of Edgefield, South Carolina, painted a whole batch of colorful rocks for the patients at a local oncology center. She was inspired by the account @smilowrocks, a movement to "spread kindness with painted rocks for patients, caregivers and staff at Smilow Cancer Hospital" in New Haven, Connecticut.

Marsi Neufeld spotted these inspirational rocks on a walk around Vancouver this week and snapped a photo of the sweet messages. We could all use this bright reminder that we'll get through this uncertain situation together.

Instagram user Windsor Kindness Rocks has been painting rocks for the last 15 years and recently started creating designs to thank healthcare workers and first responders in Ontario, Canada. They've been leaving the painted rocks outside fire stations, healthcare facilities, and senior centers to express their thanks.

Another favorite from @thekindnessrocksproject is this reminder that we're all in this together, even while we're social distancing. And founder Megan Murphy says creating art at home and sharing it online is one of the best ways to stay connected with others if you're feeling lonely during self-quarantine. "We could all use more kindness to get through this difficult time and art therapy is one way to keep a positive sense of purpose," she says. "We like to call it the 'Art of Connection,' where one message at just the right moment can change someone's entire day, outlook, or life."

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