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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
‘Smile’ stones spread positivity around NOTL neighbourhood


Smile, love and stay calm — those are just a few of the messages circulating in one Niagara-on-the-Lake neighbourhood after someone started leaving out stones with notes of positivity.

The mystery rock painter has inspired a bunch of kids from the Chautauqua neighbourhood to start painting their own messages of hope.

Eliana McManus, 11, said when she first saw the stones on the weekend she was inspired to start painting her own. She thought they were “cute” and “really loved the idea,” she said, because it was a positive message she wanted to get behind.

“I wanted to add on to them and I told my friend Molly and she saw them and she wanted to add on to them, too,” Eliana said.

So far Eliana has put out about 14 stones, she said, and she likes to write the word “love” the most.

Her dad, Patrick McManus, said she was “pretty determined about it” and painted for a couple of hours off and on.

Eli’s can be identified because she uses “lots of dots in them,” she said. “I think almost all of them have little dots in or outside of them.”

The stones are helping kids around the neighbourhood find something extra to occupy themselves while they’re off school due to COVID-19.

“Well, it’s something to do,” Eli said. “I got new paints for my birthday and I haven’t used them a lot, so I wanted to try it out. And since we live so close to the beach there’s so many rocks.”

It’s also about spreading a positive message to the community, she said.

“It couldn’t be more beautiful considering the circumstances,” said Tara Rosling, Eliana’s mom. “Because they’re kind of infusing the neighbourhood with magic and hope and beauty.” 

Tara and Patrick said whoever started putting the stones around remains a mystery.

“Everybody thinks it’s everybody else,” Tara said.

“It feels like at this point it’s truly a community act. It was a community gesture, now it’s a community act. And everybody’s getting in on it, so it feels really special. It’s very heartening.”

Chautauquans Marty and Ty Sherlock, 13 and 9, said they noticed the stones while playing outside in their yard and decided to get behind the movement. 

Marty was particularly inspired by a rock she saw with an ombre colour blend.

They’ve been writing messages like “Everything is going to be OK” and “Create your own sunshine.”

“I was like, that’s really cool, because I feel like everyone is going to the negative side of this, and then (the mystery person) was bringing out the positive,” she said.

“I feel like if I was someone else I’d want to see that during this time,” Marty said.

“While I’m on the couch,” Ty added cheekily.

They both said they think it’s just a positive gesture.

“If everyone looks at the negative, then I guess everyone is going to be negative. And negativity isn’t a good thing. And if you’re positive, I guess it kind of makes it better, even though it’s bad,” Marty said.

Marty, Ty and Eli are all using acrylic paints, they said, so their stones are water-resistant.

“We like to make ours with bright colours, like I did mine with lime green so people can notice it,” Marty said.

They said they’re in positive spirits and enjoying time off school, though Marty says she’s missing being around other people.

“I don’t miss the school work, but I’d kind of rather be doing school work at school than at home,” Marty said.

Ty said he likes being at home because he can play video games.

Their mom, Steph Tribe, said painting the rocks is helping the days go by a bit faster.

“We go out for walks, spend a lot of time together,” she said.

Another inspired rock painter, Molly Cummings, 12, said she thought it was “a lovely idea to spread some love when we are not allowed to be together.”

Like the rest, she and her father Jeff are also trying to figure out who started the rock party.

To Molly, painting the rocks is more than just something to do.

“It means participating in spreading love throughout the town,” she said. “It’s hope to give to others.”

Jeff said it’s great seeing the positivity stones spread throughout the town.

“They are little treasures waiting to be found on our daily walks. They are becoming something to look forward to, and we are all now more than ready for something to look forward to.”

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