I began seeing painted rocks around town and thought little of it initially. I paint rocks with my daughter for garden markers; it's a common craft. Next, I noticed some images popping up on social media with comments about how there were rock projects in multiple states. Finally, a neighbor walked by my garden and pointed out one of our rocks saying, "Is that for that rock project everyone is doing?" The buzz started to remind me of Pokemon Go from last summer, and I had to learn more.

Megan Murphey, a women's empowerment coach, and freelance writer had been through tragedy early in life and made a habit of walking a Cape Cod Beach in search of inspiration and signs that everything would be alright. The simplicity of finding shells, sea-glass, and various natural treasures lifted her spirits and she thought, "Maybe I'm not the only one who needs this..." She began painting rocks with inspirational messages and leaving them places for people to find, just as a hobby. When stories started coming back to her about how people's lives had been touched and days had been brightened by random gifts from a stranger, she decided to expand her project to social media.

Now The Kindness Rocks Project has gone global! Chapters of the project are in towns throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, India, Thailand, Haiti, Italy, and England. Usually, people paint rocks, but they can also write notes, paint shells, or use any creative outlet to spread random acts of kindness. Each community chapter can have their own twist such as Valdosta Rocks which plays a game hiding rocks around town, sharing photos when found, and re-hiding the found rocks.

What's truly remarkable is the testimonies you hear from people who have been impacted. So far, I've read stories of people with handicaps who found joy painting rocks and hearing about others finding them, others struggling with depression finding light, and some who started the project in their communities and now see a ripple effect of kindness with thousands of members. Our Valdosta chapter alone has nearly grown to 4,000 members!

I remember people commenting on the community building effect of Pokemon Go last summer when it gave people a reason to get out of their house, walk around, meet people, and connect with their families. The Kindness Rocks Project accomplishes the same thing without staring at a smartphone screen and it includes art and inspiration. We often hypothesize about how one person's kindness can have a ripple effect, and it's remarkable how this project makes that principle tangible.

Anyone can be a part of the movement by doing the following:

1. Collect Rocks.

2. Prep the surface for designing.

3. Decorate the Rocks.

4. Seal the Rocks with Non-Toxic Sealant.

5. Add the #thekindnessrocksproject to the back of the rocks.

6. Place the rocks in places throughout the community (where you have permission to do so and not on LNT areas) for people to find.

You can also check to see if your local community has a chapter by checking Facebook and www.thekindnessrocksproject.com or see about starting one yourself! This is a great activity for families, youth groups, and friends. In a world that has so much pain, it is refreshing to find kindness contagious.