Every day I learn something new from my patients. This week, a boy told me that he found a way to exercise using rocks. Rocks, I thought? I imagined him weight lifting boulders in the back yard as I asked him to tell me more…

In our community, there is a movement underway that involves creativity, movement, and community. People collect small rocks, then use acrylic paints to paint them with colorful designs or inspirational words. They place the rocks around the community in parks and on sidewalks where others can find and enjoy them. The person who finds the rock can keep it or hide it in a new location. This activity is simple, yet perfect on 3 levels.

Creativity: Taking a few minutes to design and paint a rock with a friend or family member can be a great mental break from the stressors in our lives. During the creative process, we use different parts of our brains from our usual activities. Choose your colors, swirl your designs, select inspirational words to write. You can’t make a mistake because any design makes a rock more colorful than it was before you started. If you don’t like how your rock turned out, you can wash it off and start again. Or get a new rock. They are free.

Physical activity: Walking for 30 minutes a day is good for our bodies. My patient shared with me that having a reason to walk makes it easier and more fun. He and his mom walk together in a park near their home, finding rocks others have left, and leaving the ones they created. War Memorial Park is the epicenter of our local Rocks movement, but rocks are also hidden in Morgan’s Grove Park, Poor House Farm Park, and in many local stores, restaurants, and sidewalks. Hide some rocks in your favorite park, tell some friends, and get out there and moving!

Community: Leaving something you have created for someone else to find makes you feel good. The person who finds your special rock also feels good. We can all use more acts of kindness and appreciation in our daily lives. Even though you might not know who finds your rock, the acts of giving and receiving bring us together as a community. Some people are connecting about the rocks on the EPWV Facebook page.

By Sarah Moerschel, MD, FAAP