Kindness-rock treasure hunt in Essex puts smiles on people's faces
Shelley Dirisio started painting rocks with caring messages and leaving them where people can find them
Sydney Dirisio ran from one tree to the next looking to find the next brightly painted rock — a beaming smile crossed her face every time she found one.
Over the past four weeks, the nine-year-old girl has been visiting Sadler's Pond, hiding and finding the colourful treasures that typically fit in the palm of her hand.
The hunt for what are called kindness rocks started with her mother, Shelley Dirisio, who began painting stones with caring messages as a tribute to a friend who lost her daughter to neuroblastoma. Ever since, parents and children throughout the Town of Essex have been doing the same thing.
"I like hiding the rocks," Sydney said, running around the park Monday. "It's fun."
The latest game is designed to put smiles on the face of people who find them, while bringing the community closer together, explained Shelley. More than 200 people have joined the Facebook group Essex Rocks, where photos of the rocks are posted.
"It is special to me because you go through things in life and would have hoped somebody would have given a positive message to you," Shelley said. "I feel like maybe somebody walking by, who is losing hope or needs a smile, sees a rock with a nice message to brighten their day."
Every rock is covered in bright colours, a happy image and kind message. After the rock is painted it is meant to be hidden somewhere in an area for someone else to find, leading to a town-wide scavenger hunt.
Dirisio is encouraging people to use a palm-sized rock and acrylic based paint. She then suggests the artists finish their work with a waterproof sealer.
"I just want everybody to get out there and have a good time with their kids and put a nice message for someone and hopefully it will bring a smile to their face," said Dirisio.