by Taylor Milligan
Fayette County homeschool teacher and mother Wendy Gallacher thought she was going on a simple family vacation to Lakeland, Florida last summer. Instead she brought back a life-changing gift for the county. While strolling downtown, Gallacher’s children found their first kindness rocks. These colorfully painted rocks with short messages of kindness changed her vacation into a mission. She just had to find who was making these quirky, colorful stones.
Gallacher took notes from a fellow activist of positivity, Megan Murphy. Murphy founded the original Kindness Rock Project in Cape Cod, Massachusetts a few years back, and the foundation has spread to other states like Florida where the Gallacher family found their rocks.
Murphy considers the start of the Kindness Rock Project as a simple hobby turned movement. Her sporadic painting and spreading of a few rocks around the island quickly turned into person after person contacting her on how her small messages of motivation changed their lives. Murphy saw this as a huge opportunity to spread positivity in the simplest way. Thus the Kindness Rock Project was born.
“Many people, including myself, are feeling a sense of overwhelmingness and restlessness due to the current events taking place in our world today,” Murphy said.
Despite the whirlwind of chaos people face today, Murphy hopes to bring some light and spread optimism with her project. She professes it through her mantra, “Together, we can make a positive impact!”
What Murphy is still surprised to see is that the movement is now worldwide. People as far as Thailand, Canada, and Haiti were motivated by her work and began projects in their own areas. On the Kindness Rock Project’s official website thekindnessrockproject.com, a live map is constantly filling with pins of new locations of rock gardens. Murphy’s small arts and crafts hobby was the spark to hundreds of new Kindness Rock Projects around the world.
Gallacher is bringing her own spark to her community. After that trip to Florida, she had the urge create a something special for our area. This Easter, she decided to start up a new sector of the Kindness Rock Project in Fayette County. The first event the project attended was the annual Easter Egg Hunt put on by Fayette United Methodist Church this past April.
Gallacher had youth volunteers from Girl Scouts and Macaroni Kids paint messages on around 30 to 40 stones. Then at the Easter event, kids from the church and around the community were able to “plant” the painted rocks in the church’s kindness rock garden.
The project has since quickly spread across the county with gardens at Fayetteville Dwarf House and Shamrock Park in Tyrone. Future garden locations will include Piedmont Fayette Hospital, the Peachtree City Library, and Point University. Once the Fayette County Rocks Projects has collected its goal of 800 stones, Gallacher plans to kickstart a school-wide rock garden at Sara Harp Minter Elementary for hundreds of students to participate and hopefully inspire schools across the county to spread small messages of kindness every day.
Gallacher enjoys keeping painted rocks in her car and spreads them across Fayette County when she is out day to day with her kids, but the growth of the project is her first priority.
“It’s all been a blur, but amazing” Gallacher said. “I just want to spread the benefits of random acts of kindness and service throughout this area.”
She has received a large response from people finding her rocks scattered around the county.
“If you find a painted rock somewhere, keep it, paint a new one, and pay it forward,” Gallacher said.
A small contribution like that could start a chain reaction of positivity throughout the county. She hopes not only to motivate community positivity, but also to gain the necessary support for the project from community leaders and local organizations. The project only depends on four supplies: rocks, paint, paintbrushes, and volunteers.
To get involved by donating supplies, volunteering at an event, starting a new community rock garden, or for more in-depth information about the project, email email@example.com.
Ways to get connected with the Fayettes Kindness Rocks Project social media include Facebook and Instagram (@FayetteRocksKindnessProject). Use the hashtag #FayetteRocks or #TheKindnessRocksProject when sharing a painted rock of your own.
The Fayette Kindness Rock Project is attending the Picnic in the Park event at Drake Field in Peachtree City on June 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gallacher would love volunteers or contributions to the rock garden at the family event.
“Our message was simple, to inspire others by inspiring others, and that is happening big time,” Gallacher said.