Like many teens, Alex Williams knows people.
“I noticed some of my friends and some of my classmates were having a tough time at home and in school,” says Alex, 13. “Then I had some friends who experienced bullying.”
She wanted to do something to help peers and others in distress. The Holmes Junior High School eighth-grader came up with a few ideas that might provide support. Eventually, she learned of the Kindness Rocks Challenge.
Founded by writer and business mentor Megan Murphy, the Kindness Rocks Challenge consists of painting inspirational images and messages on rocks and giving them to loved ones or strangers.
“Now more than ever, kindness can become a connecting force for good,” writes Murphy. “Many people, including myself, are feeling a sense of overwhelm, unease and restlessness due to the current events taking place in our world today. I believe that united strength can be cultivated through simple random acts of kindness.”
To participate, simply paint a rock with bright colors and a message that inspires, affirms and/or motivates. Take a photo of your creation and share via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, including the hashtag #MAKEKindnessRocks. Give the rock away, or leave it for someone to find.
Kindness Rocks Cedar Falls has a distribution point on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. There are several rocks there, along with a sign reading: “Take a rock for inspiration. Share a rock for motivation. Leave your own creation.”
You also may find a rock as you go about your day. That’s because the project encourages the random placement of the inspirational messages.
It’s catching on in a big way. Via Facebook and Instagram, area residents of all ages and backgrounds post about finding rocks placed at distribution points and other locations across the Cedar Valley.
“My cousin and I were downtown again today and found more of these (rocks),” writes one Instagram poster, who shared photos of rocks reading “Hope” and “Chin Up.” “I love finding them! They’re so gorgeous and inspirational!”
Alex paints rocks with friends and has hosted free, public painting sessions too. Her mom, Kimberly Williams, helps with securing supplies and organizing booths at the College Hill and Cedar Falls markets.
In the future, Alex would like to mentor someone in creating a Waterloo project.
“I wish I had called it ‘Cedar Valley Kindness Rocks’ or something like that; I just didn’t know how big this would get,” she says. “It’s great to see how people have embraced this and how happy it makes everyone.”