If you have been lucky enough to find a painted rock with a positive message or a cheerful design in Barnesvile or the surrounding area, you have become part of a movement started in the area by 10-year-old Harlee Owens in response to sadness she recognized in Barnesville following the loss of two local people to suicide.
Harlee, who also conducts a yearly food drive at Christmas time called Harlee's Helping Hands, and her mother Crystal, created the group to start a chain reaction of random acts of kindness to "unexpectedly brighten someone's day one rock at a time and to pass it on." The goal is to encourage creativity, exploring and community involvement.
Those whom find a rock are asked to take a picture and post it to HARLEE BARNESVILLE ROCKS Facebook Page and then re-hide it, although, if you want you can keep it for awhile and "release" it again when you are ready.
The Facebook page lists the following as benefits of participating in this activity:
When we are creating and painting our mind is moved away from the stress in our lives and the issues in the world.
When we hide rocks we are giving, and that just feels good.
When we are looking for rocks to paint and looking for painted rocks, we are out in the fresh air and sunshine.
When our rocks are found and posted, we are overcome by excitement.
When someone finds our painted rocks it may bring a much needed smile to someone's face.
Harlee and Crystal say that the group is for all ages and is a "community-building group meant to inspire creativity in all ages and bring kids/families back together again in a world gone completely wild." Through it, people can spread happiness, love and inspiration through the simple gesture of painting rocks and "hiding" them throughout the community for people to find, they say.
"It's a great way for families to get out more and take walks and have some peaceful and stress free time with their children," Crystal said, noting that it has become a special bonding time for her and Harlee and one to which she looks forward.
Harlee's group was inspired by Northeast Ohio Rocks, and participants are encouraged to spread the rocks as far as they can. They initially released 25 rocks and then another batch of 16 the next week. As evidenced by the Facebook page, many of those rocks have already been found, re-hidden, and found again many times.
Harlee will be painting rocks with her Girl Scout troop, and Crystal hopes they can also take the activity to local nursing homes to share with residents there. Her Facebook page contains guidelines for the program and tips on how to clean, paint or decorate, and seal rocks for those who want to create their own and add to the program.