One of the goals of American public education is to engage the nation’s youth into civic life, being part of a community. One London Middle School teacher is trying to promote that aspect, or in her own words “to simply spread joy.”
Kirsten Witt, who teaches sixth grade language arts and reading, is starting a community scavenger hunt called “London Rocks” with her students.
The students are painting polished rocks with their own designs which will then be hidden around the city of London.
When a rock is found, whoever finds it is encouraged to post a picture of in a Facebook group, facebook.com/groups/LondonOHRocks. That person then hides it again or puts out a new rock they painted.
Her goal is to give her students connection to their community and London as whole, noting a lack of pride and engagement among her students.
“I really wanted to bring some positivity to the students and offer something fun for families to do in the community,” she said. “Our main goal is to spread joy. This is simply supposed to be fun for everyone.”
Witt got the idea over spring break, where she vacationed with her family in Palm Harbor, Florida.
She noticed some local teens hunting the grass, thinking they had lost something. They told her they were looking for rocks.
Her kids found several brightly painted rocks while they were out for a stroll.
“They were all unique, with only one similarity, each had ‘Palm Harbor FB’ painted on the back,” she said.
This prompted Witt to look into the whole thing and discover Palm Beach Rocks. The group is part of the “spreading smiles movement” which aims to connect communities with positivity and local activities fun for the whole family.
The rock painting scavenger hunt started there years ago, when the organizers there were vacationing in Vancouver, Canada and found similar rocks. Now Palm Harbor’s community activity has spread to neighboring areas in Florida.
“I immediately thought this would be perfect to bring to London,” Witt said.
While her students spearhead the project, she hopes to spread the idea to other London groups, from Boy and Girl Scouts, to church groups, 4-H and more.
Those interested in participating are encouraged to purchase smoothed out rocks to paint, as found rocks might be too jagged or lose the paint. Any rocks hidden should be placed in a safe area and with permission if it is on private land or in a private business.
Witt can be contacted with more questions at LondonOHRocks@groups.facebook.com.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat.