City participates in International Kindness Project

An international Kindness Project has made its way to Shelton and its creator hopes to inspire people all over the world to uplift one another.

Along the Shelton Dog Park’s trails, located on Nells Rock Road, hidden in plain sight, there are brightly painted rocks with inspirational messages, such as, “You matter,” “Be happy,” and “Smile,” left in the hope of brightening someone’s day.

The rocks are part of “The Kindness Rock Project,” an international motivational project started by Megan Murphy of Cape Cod.

According to Murphy, “the goals of the project are simple: to inspire others through random- placed rocks and to recruit new people who spot the act to continue the movement.”

The project has spread across the world, with rocks appearing in India, Thailand, and Australia.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Murphy said she started the project to help cope with a difficult time in her life.

While taking walks on the beach, she kept an eye out for unique objects, such as heart-shaped rocks. She explained that “the rocks felt like signs. They made me feel happy. I wanted to provide the same experience for other people at the beach so they could have the same spark in their eyes.”

Murphy began to paint rocks and leave them scattered along her favorite beaches. Strangers started to come up to her and complimented the charming rocks. Murphy said that her daughter suggested adding the hashtag to all of the rocks and from there the project was born.

“It started to grow like crazy,” said Murphy.

After the hashtag was created, the project started booming with numerous Facebook groups, Twitter posts and Instagram posts.

Finally, the website was formed. The website allows people to officially add a new rock marker, discover locations nearby, and share stories about sightings.

According to the website, Murphy’s plan to inspire others, resonated with one Shelton resident who was the first in the city to paint a rock of her own as a part of the project.

The rocks in the Shelton Dog Park were anonymously posted with the description, “This project was put into place by the second-grade CCD class of St. Joseph Church, Shelton. The teacher wanted her students to know that, no matter your age, you can create small acts of kindness that create a wave of positive reaction.”

With this limited information and the mysterious initials of “JB” left on the rocks, it was discovered that the creator of the Shelton-based rocks was Julie Blakeman of Shelton. She recounted that she “found” [the Kindness Rock Project] at Silver Sands Beach in Milford.

“I found that it closely fit the curriculum for my religious classes. It’s all about the fact that little voices can have an impact,” said Blakeman.

In class, Blakeman’s students were “excited to touch, feel, and act out to make a true difference.”

On October 15, 2016, Blakeman placed the rocks on the trails.

Afterward, through the “Shelton CT Moms” Facebook page, Blakeman said people began to message her about how they planned to add to the Shelton collection.

“People started painting rocks in bad snow storms, Girl Scouts were adding stones, and overall, there has been a very positive response,” said Blakeman.

Blakeman’s motives closely correlate with the true purpose of the project.

“There is one quote that really sums up the project. It’s my favorite one that I have seen painted on one of the rocks. It is a famous Buddha quote that says ‘One movement can change a day. One day can change a life. One life can change the world.’”