By Kelly Villaruel
Have you ever been in a position where something is happening to someone specifically or to the community at large and you really want to help but you do not know how? When big stuff is going on in the world of a child, they usually want to do something about it but sometimes they can feel helpless. Or, intuitively, children want to give hugs or draw pictures to give out to those who might need them, just to help them to feel better. While we are sticking to distant socializing, this is the perfect time for children to make a big difference in our community and spread some magic and joy to those who may be in need.
Very often, in our programs we “send rainbows” to our families, friends, animals or trees. We do this by talking out loud about where this rainbow will go then rubbing our hands together and saying a color out loud. Then on the count of 3, we all blow the rainbow out to its destination. It is very intentional. What I love about this is it helps to cultivate our caring and tending capacities and it helps to build empathy. It is empowering to the children to know that they can do this to share some light and love with others and it gives them a real tool to use when they want to help but do not know what to do.
Have you ever been driving around town and you spot one of those beautiful mosaic rocks and it makes you smile? It is a little hidden surprise and if you do not know where they all are, it can be very exciting to see one. Children can do something similar, on a smaller scale, with painting rocks and leaving them on the trails that you visit to brighten the days of others. For the folks who live alone, elders perhaps, walking is one of the only times they have any contact with other people and now, stopping to talk is not really an option. Some people are lonely.
Painting pictures and writing messages on rocks is a way that children can bring some joy into the lives of people in our community and remind folks that we are all still here and we care. The best part about this is that it is anonymous, like sneaking a gift to someone who may never know who it was from. People are feeling a lot of emotions nowadays with plenty of ups and downs. You never can tell just who is in need of a special message but one thing is certain, those messages have the power to change someone’s day.
- Acrylic paint in various colors
- Clear coat sealer
- Paint brushes (for younger children, thick handles are easier for their hands)
Cover the surface the children will be using to paint rocks. Have children paintng pictures on rocks. Anything that inspires the children is perfect. As they paint, have a discussion about where you might leave the rocks and who might see them. This will add to the excitement of the project. Paint messages on the rocks or use sharpies to write the words once the paint has dried. What kind of messages might you want to write on the rocks? Affirmations such as “stay calm” or “take a deep breath” or…..? Natural mystery questions like “point to the nearest bird” or “where could a frog be hiding?” . Maybe a silly joke needs to go on the rock. After paint has dried, spray with a clear coat to seal. No clear coat? No problem. Acrylic paint is pretty hearty and a thick coat can withstand the elements. When rocks are dry, take them on a hike and leave them on the trail for others to see.
Something to know, sometimes people take the rocks because they like them or because they really needed that message that day. You can leave it at that or write a note on the back asking people to leave the rocks for others to enjoy and challenge them to add to the community love notes.
If you have older children, have them write the messages for the little ones on the dried paint. Using a sharpie for that will be easier than trying to paint letters clearly with paint brushes.