Check out The Mount Airy News' article on the kindness rocks project by Megan Murphy! Check out the original post here.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is what Roxane Cann hoped to display at the Third-Annual Vincent’s Legacy Kindness Day. Saturday’s event at Veteran’s Memorial Park honored the life of Cann’s 14-year-old son, Vincent Puckett, who took his life as a result of bullying in 2017.
Instead of letting darkness overcome her, Cann has dedicated her life to spreading the message of kindness to eradicate bullying.
“I consider myself lucky that I got to be his mother,” Cann said. “Two years and 25 days feels like an eternity without him, but the things we’ve been able to accomplish in that amount of time is huge. This day is so awesome and so fun, and it’s just the third one. We plan on doing this every year. We do it because of the community support and the sponsorships that we have because everyone wants to help.”
Saturday’s day of kindness featured live music from bands such as CandelFirth and the Granite City Rock Orchestra. The Enforcers Motorcycle Club kicked the day off with a charity ride and then returned to the park in the afternoon. Hundreds of visitors enjoyed face painting, food trucks, a silent auction, raffles and overall positivity.
“Some of the people are out here just because they love Vincent and are impacted by the message that we are sending that kindness rocks. Kindness first can combat bullying,” Cann said. “Everybody can choose kindness, it’s not hard. You smile at someone, you hold the door open, you blow bubbles, you have balloons, or you paint a rock. Then that rock travels, and it’s got a happy little message on it.”
Cann and her family created Vincent’s Legacy: Kindness Rocks in partnership with the Mount Airy City Schools system. The organization implements policy change and procedures to give children better ways to report bullying, harassment, and other incidents that they feel uncomfortable with. Cann also attends different schools and rotary clubs spreading Vincent’s story and promoting the message of ‘Kindness First.’
One of the biggest things the group does is paint rocks and spread them all across the globe. The small rocks, nicknamed,”Kindess Rocks,” can have inspirational messages or simply be a pallet of different colors. Each rock is tagged with the group’s Facebook page, “Vincent’s Legacy, Kindness Rocks,” and includes their hashtag #vwplegacy.
”It was just something that, the month that Vincent passed away, my sister Amanda and my daughter Lily started to paint rocks and were hiding them all over the town,” Cann said. “Later in the month, people would find them and take a picture of it and post it on Facebook. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Lily’s rock,’ or, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Amanda’s rock.’ We started a Facebook page so people could post pictures there, and it just kind of grew from there to what it is today.”
Rocks are donated to the organization by Farmers Mulch and Rock in Dobson. Then, Cann reported that 10 or so people in the community will come and pick up the unpainted rocks by the bucket and paint them to be dispersed.
Although Cann brought kindness rocks to this area, the concept has been around a while. A woman by the name of Megan Murphy started The Kindness Rocks Project in 2015 as an easy way for anyone to spread happiness. The movement started when Murphy, who lost both parents in her early 20s, was walking down a beach near Cape Cod.
Murphy sought advice on her life, and said little heart-shaped rocks that would wind up on the beach gave her peace. Later revelations prompted Murphy to start writing encouraging messages on rocks and leaving them on beaches for others to find. This pay-it-forward mentality spread worldwide and eventually reached Mount Airy.
Cann said that rocks painted by her group have been found in 44 states and in countries such as Iceland, China and Italy. Kindness Rock gardens can also be found on the campuses of four city schools, allowing students to leave a message or take a rock.
“The school system has an after-school program that allows kids to take care of the gardens and spread kindness and awareness,” Cann said. “The partnership we have with Mount Airy City Schools is wonderful. They have helped be the legs that this legacy needs to reach really, really far and wide.”
Cann continued: ”We are very grateful for Dr. (Kim) Morrison and Dr. (Phillip) Brown. They don’t usually say no when I ask to do something with the school system. Can we put another rock garden somewhere? Can we come and speak? Things like that.”
The Legacy’s partnership with the school system goes beyond speeches and rock gardens. For the third year in a row, a Mount Airy High School senior was awarded the Vincent Puckett Kindness Award and Scholarship. Cann said that this year’s recipient, Carson Driggers, is a deserving young man.
Kindness Day may just be one day a year, but Cann works year-round to spread the message. Kristie McMillan, Cann’s close friend, said that Roxane’s drive inspires others to work tirelessly in hopes of preventing other families from suffering like she did.
“Roxane’s strength and leadership is inspiring and that is why it is still moving forward,” McMillan said of Vincent’s Legacy. “We watch how she took the death of her son and turned it into something beautiful where it could have easily gone into something dark. She just continues to motivate and inspire everybody around her.”
Cann disagreed with McMillan, stating that the movement will continue to grow not because of her, but because of Vincent.
“I want to put Mount Airy on the map as the kindest city in the United States, and I feel like it’s coming to fruition.”