How colourful rocks are spreading kindness all around the Stokes

Ellie Carr displays some of her favourite "rocks".

Brightly decorated pebbles have been appearing at random locations all over Bradley Stoke in recent weeks, a sure sign that a worldwide phenomenon known as the Kindness Rocks Project has reached our area.

The craze, which is particularly popular amongst families with young children, involves using paint, glitter and other materials to decorate rocks or pebbles with colourful images and then leaving them lying around in public places, sometimes partially hidden, for others to discover and enjoy.

The ‘rocks’ are usually labelled with a hashtag, which identifies the creator, and people are encouraged to post photos of their ‘finds’ on local Facebook groups (ours is called ‘The Stokes Rocks’), quoting the hashtag. Once recorded, the ‘rock’ is often moved to a new location, exposing it to a wider audience.

Around the Stokes, pebbles can often be spotted on top of street name signs, dotted around play parks and on bridges and posts in the Three Brooks nature reserve. Popular spots are around the local primary schools and on the pathways leading to the Willow Brook Centre.

While it is possible to use pebbles found in the garden, many people have been buying bags of stones from garden centres, as these have a regular size and consistent colour. Acrylic paint and Sharpie pens are often used for the decoration, which is then weatherproofed using clear nail varnish, spray lacquer or yacht varnish.

One enthusiastic member of The Stokes Rocks, Adrienne Wheeler, estimates that her family has decorated and placed more than 60 pebbles over the past few weeks. Adrienne says rock painting is a craft activity that children of different ages can easily get into. Apart from the creative aspects, they also enjoy ‘treasure hunting’ – discovering pebbles hidden by others.

Children are also delighted to hear, via the Facebook group, that their creations have been discovered and appreciated by others in the community. Adrienne says her daughter Charlie (6) was “absolutely thrilled” when one of the Bradley Stoke PCSOs posted a picture of a pebble Charlie had hidden on the official police Twitter feed (@ASPTheStokes), having discovered it whilst out on patrol.

Another local member, Sara Carr, said children are sometimes so impressed with the stones they find that they want to keep them rather than hide them again. Some children have also been known to decorate pebbles with their friends’ favourite characters or images and leave them near their friends’ homes, which leads to great excitement when the “personalised” object is discovered.

Pebbles decorated by members of The Stokes Rocks group on Facebook.

The Stokes Rocks on Facebook

Amanda McAusland, administrator of The Stokes Rocks, explains how people use the local Facebook local group.

We are one of a growing community inspired by The Kindness Rock Project, which originated in the USA. Their philosophy is to pay forward kindness. They describe their goals as (1) “Inspire others through randomly placed rocks along the way”; and (2) “Recruit every person who stumbles upon it to join in the pursuit of inspiring others through random acts of kindness”

Like so many things these days, the first I heard of the Rocks movement was on Facebook. A friend had started her own Facebook group Clevedon Rocks, and her two sons were enjoying collecting, painting and hiding their rocks. This seemed to me a perfect way of getting children out and about in the fresh air, using their creative side, and exercising, all without realizing it!
The idea is simple. Go and find rocks or large pebbles, paint them with your choice of design, varnish, and hide. On the reverse side of the rock, write The Stokes Rocks, and ‘hashtag’ your name. The finder then takes a photo, posts it to the group, and tags the original owner so they know it’s been found and re-hidden.

Our group is limited to the Stokes area, but there are many other Rocks groups to be found on Facebook. Bristol Rocks is very prolific, with over 20,000 members! Some of the artists are very talented, and people are also being very creative with their hiding places. Some Bristol Rocks have ended up in Australia and the USA, as well as all over Europe.

You certainly don’t need to be an artist to take part, even very young children can take part. It’s all about being creative, and getting exercise out in the fresh air, and of the sense of pride when your rock is found, or when a particularly well hidden rock is finally spotted!

Please go to our Facebook page The Stokes Rocks and our Instagram @thestokesrocks for inspiration.

Charlie & Immy Wheeler show off some of the "rocks" they have decorated.

Photos: 1 Ellie Carr displays some of her favourite “rocks”. Pebbles decorated by members of The Stokes Rocks group. 3 Charlie & Immy Wheeler show off some of the “rocks” they have decorated.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 14 & 15). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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