Rock on, Wichita, with painted, kindness-spreading rocks

“ICT Area ROCKS!” is painting and hiding rocks in the Wichita area as part of a nationwide “kindness rocks” movement.
“ICT Area ROCKS!” is painting and hiding rocks in the Wichita area as part of a nationwide “kindness rocks” movement. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita rocks.

This is the message Emily Yoho and Meghan Ugues are sharing through their Facebook group “ICT Area ROCKS!

The 250-plus-member group, which started in April, is painting and hiding rocks throughout the area with a goal of spreading kindness to others.

“It’s a year-round Easter egg hunt,” Yoho said. “You can paint a rock and put it out for others to find, you can find a rock and take it home, or you can find one and take a picture before hiding it for someone else to find.”

The Yoho family did not come up with the idea but stumbled across a green, polka-dotted rock in Joplin, Mo. They still have the rock and have since painted and hidden more than enough rocks to replace it – mostly around parks or in Wichita’s Little Free Libraries.

Take a stroll around the “Keeper of the Plains” or near the playgrounds at Sedgwick County Park, and you might find a peacock, a Minion or a dinosaur. Well, in rock form, that is.

“We look at the rock and see what it reminds me of,” Yoho said, referring to a rock she painted to resemble a pair of underwear. “It’s a chance to be creative and then share that with others.”

The smoother river rocks make the perfect canvas for painting an inspirational quote or message, so you might find one of those while walking the Arkansas River Trail. Ugues recently painted a rock with the message: “Be the reason someone smiles today.”

Both school counselors, Yoho and Ugues find painting rocks therapeutic.

“I read about it on a school counselor’s blog, and kids who struggle with emotion regulation would paint rocks and tell their stories,” Ugues said. “That’s the best thing about this. It’s not a paint the town where we’re all painting the same thing. It’s about taking your rock and painting it into whatever you want it to be.”

And rock painting is a family affair, they said.

Edison James Yoho, 4, and Maddex Ugues, 5, enjoy painting and hiding rocks with their moms.

Maddex likes spraying his rocks with a glow-in-the-dark paint so rock hunters can find them even at night.

“I like hiding them in cool spots,” Edison said.

“ICT Area ROCKS!” is part of a nationwide “Kindness Rocks” movement. A map of other groups can be found at The Kindness Rocks Project’s website.

The Wichita-area group will host a free rock-painting event from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 27 at MakeICT, 1500 E. Douglas. The Sod Shop donated 250 rocks, and “ICT Area Rocks!” will provide some supplies, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own rocks and supplies. Afterward, participants can hide their rocks together.

“We hope the whole community will join us in painting and hiding rocks,” Yoho said. “If you find a rock you like, keep it, but put another one out there for others to find.”

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-628-6213, @KaitlynAlanis

You can help

ICT Area ROCKS! offers this advice for people who want to participate.

▪ Find a rock.

▪ Use acrylic-based paint on the rock.

▪ On the back, write “ICT Area ROCKS!” along with a note to take a photo, join the group and rehide the rock.

▪ Use a sealant to protect your art.

▪ Hide the rock in a park or along a walking path.