Last May, London Middle School teacher Kirsten Witt led a group of her students around the city on what she called a “Rock Walk.” The students had hand-painted dozens of polished rocks with all varieties of colors and designs and their goal was to hide them around London for residents to find. They wanted to “spread smiles,” meaning that the designs painted on the rocks were meant to evoke happiness in whoever happened to stumble across one of them.
This Saturday, Oct. 14, the group is doing it again.
It started after Witt returned from a spring break trip to Florida. She had seen some kids hunting for Easter eggs and the sight sparked an idea in her. She wanted to start a program for her students to do something creative and engage with the community. So she started “London Rocks,” which would serve as a community-wide scavenger hunt throughout the city of London.
“The goal for the students is to paint something knowing that it is going to lift someone’s spirit, even if for a minute,” Witt said. “When people find one, they are encouraged to take a picture holding it and post it on the ‘London OH Rocks’ Facebook page.” The idea then would be for the person to rehide it or make one of their own to hide.
The group will be meeting at McDonald’s on East High Street in London at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Although it started with the students, Witt said anyone is welcome.
“I’ll have over 100 rocks with me, already painted and ready,” she said. “It had been a while since we’d done it and I wanted to get more rocks out there. So I thought, we need to have another walk and do it again.”
After McDonald’s, the group will walk through town and participants are encouraged to hide the rocks wherever they’d like. The walk will then conclude at Cowling Park, where participants will be treated to pizza, chips and cookies courtesy of donations from Domino’s, Kroger, and Friends of London Public Library.
“I was really thrilled by the number of kids who came last time,” Witt said. She’s hoping to keep the participation up and gain enough interest to expand it. “I would like to get the community involved. Especially local businesses.” So far, a group of employees at Kroger has painted some rocks and included them in the hunt. For the people who find those, they are encouraged to turn them into the desk at the Kroger in London and they will receive a candy bar.
“I’d like to do more stuff like that,” Witt added. “Some of the businesses in town could do something similar. Either hand something out or do something to get the kids coming in.” The event Saturday is only the second “Rock Walk,” but her plan is to continue doing them. “I would like to have one in the spring and one in the fall. It just depends how it goes.”
Her hope is that, in addition to the gesture of paying positivity forward, the exercise will accomplish what she hoped from the beginning: bringing the community together.
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.