Walking through the park this summer, you just may stumble upon a brightly decorated rock that changes your whole day. Rocks like these are part of a creative kindness movement that encourages individuals to spread positivity by painting and hiding rocks with pictures or inspirational messages. People of all ages have taken a special interest in these rocks – and with the help of social media, they have come together to form friendships and spread kindness through art.
Fox Valley Hidden Rocks
Fox Valley Hidden Rocks (FVHR) is a group on Facebook dedicated to kindness rocks in the Fox Valley. Founded in July of 2016, their mission is to bring joy to someone’s day through painting and hiding rocks. “The best thing about our group is the smiles that we spread across the area – and further” said Alexandria Spranger, the groups creator. “Sometimes people end up finding the perfect message at the right time, or even friendships through our group.”
13,000 Members and Growing
With nearly 13,000 members, the group continues to grow. It began after Spranger was encouraged to start a local rock group. “Someone suggested creating my own group to bring it to our area and I took their advice,” explains Spranger. “After we had a hiding event, it took off like an explosion and has snowballed from there.” The group not only embraces kindness but inspires members to develop their artistic talents, live an active lifestyle and explore the community. “It stimulates creativity, sharing and venturing into the outdoors” said Spranger, “I had never been to a lot of local parks until I started this hobby!”
Like Spranger, group member Michelle Tinkham, enjoys spending time outdoors with her two sons, who are 5 and 7. “My youngest and I spend a couple hours a week exploring new parks and walking trails searching for rocks or good places to hide them” said Tinkham. Tinkham was introduced to the group after finding her first rock, which happened to be painted by a close friend. Since then, she and her sons paint rocks over winter and hide their creations as the weather gets warmer.
Not only does rock hunting lead to exploring new places, but it engages the entire family. Spranger, along with her children, Audrie, 10, and Karly, 19 months, enjoy painting rocks together. “This activity has no age limit” explains Spranger. Best of all, the hobby offers families a remarkable bonding experience. “Painting and hiding rocks has brought us closer,” said group member and mom of two, Michaela Schuh. “So many beautiful memories have been made!”
Creativity and Connecting
Apart from the excitement of finding rocks painted with goofy cartoons, brave superheroes and beautiful sunsets, Schuh appreciates what kindness rocks have to offer her daughters, Kiya, 6, and Natalyanna, 10. “This hobby is about spending time together, getting out of the house, finding new spots to explore and teaching them the value of bringing joy to someone” said Schuh.
The rocks also introduce an entertaining challenge. “Coming up with ideas on what to paint is always fun since every rock is a different shape and size,” said Schuh. “The kids and I have had some good laughs coming up with silly ideas!”
Hedgehogs, Ice Cream Cones, and Unicorns
It is clear by scrolling through the group’s page that there is no shortage of talent or creative ideas, and group member Kelly McMahon Rathsack is no exception. Rathsack enjoys painting rocks so much, that she has painted an upwards of 5,000 of them! With designs ranging from her iconic hedgehog to ice cream cones and sparkly unicorns – her work is easily recognizable to group members and quickly favorited by the kids who find them.
For Rathsack, painting rocks isn’t just a hobby, but a way to unwind. “It’s something I do in the evenings to relax” said Rathsack. “If it’s a rainy, cold weekend – I paint rocks. I even pack all my supplies and bring them up north with me.” Rathsack was introduced to painting rocks by her mother. “I decided to look into it because it was all my mom was talking about” laughed Rathsack. “That was two years ago, and I haven’t stopped painting since!”
“Someone will always love your rock no matter what it looks like,” encourages Spranger. “It’s not about the skill level, it’s about having fun.”
You don’t have to be Picasso to paint rocks or sharing your creations in the FVHR group. “Someone will always love your rock no matter what it looks like,” encourages Spranger. “It’s not about the skill level, it’s about having fun.” Those interested in learning to paint can pick up tips among the group members. “Enjoy yourself and the art,” said Tinkham, “be kind to one another and help brighten someone’s day.”
To learn more about the kindness rocks or to join the group, look for Fox Valley Hidden Rocks on Facebook. In all, have fun, be kind and rock on!