It’s hurricane season in Florida. Studies have shown that on rainy days, people report lower satisfaction with their lives. Luckily for us, we have Lake Nona Rocks! Founded by Candice Haeske, this grassroots happiness movement brings unexpected joy and positivity to everyone it touches. I had the opportunity to chat with Candice and Pam Guyton about this spot of sunshine to get us through any rough patch.
Nancy: Tell me about Lake Nona Rocks! and how you came up with the idea.
Candice: I had read an article about Lakeland Rocks and the wonderful response the community was having to finding these rocks. It was making a difference in people’s lives. It is an activity that brings families and the community together. I have two kids and I want them to see how doing something so small such as painting a rock can bring joy to the people around you. We hear a lot of negative news so it is nice to hear and see people doing something positive for the community.
Nancy: With 364 members and counting, did you face any challenges when first getting the group together?
Candice: When I started the Facebook page last November for the rock group I shared it in a couple of local groups. I actually got banned from a local site for sharing the info!
Pam: I saw a colleague in the panhandle post on her local page, so I looked to see if we had one. And fortunately we did.
Nancy: Is there a goal or end in mind for Lake Nona Rocks!?
Candice : My goal was to make more people smile each day and to build a stronger community. Bring peace and happiness to our area!
Nancy: How do you get kids involved with this?
Candice: When we first started hiding rocks my kids would want to go check to see if anyone found the rocks constantly. I would have to drive to different locations just to check on the rocks! When one was picked up my kids were so excited and we talked about hoping it brightened someone’s day. We actually placed one last week and checked on it every day. It is still there!
We went to Saint Augustine a couple of months ago and found two different rocks. One was from Martin County so it was fun to see that communities from all over are participating. I know someone from this group is doing a great job traveling and placing rocks from our area! We are traveling to Boston soon and my kids want to make and take patriotic rocks with them to leave on our trip.
Pam: I’ll be beginning my 28th year in the classroom this fall as I open the new Innovation Middle school. This summer I have the privilege of teaching the upcoming Calculus Project co-hort. This group of amazing Algebra students gave up their summer to prepare for their upcoming 7th grade year as Algebra Honors students. As part of a cohort whose end game is AP Calculus, these kids will have many math struggles and frustrations ahead. But we are each other’s support! We have each other’s back. We are each other’s positivity. Thus the need for painting rocks! I shared the Nona Rocks page with the students – in hopes that the students learn that good deeds and spreading positivity is what the world needs. It will benefit us as we go through these 5 years of math and hopefully we can share a bit of positivity ourselves, by placing these rocks around our town. It was a bonding experience. The kids loved it, and are excited about spreading the love, and happiness.
Nancy: With everyone so busy nowadays, how much time do you need to commit to be part of Nona Rocks!
Candice: I was an elementary school teacher and currently I homeschool my two kids. It does take time to complete the rocks, but the reward of making someone else have a better day is why we keep doing it. How can you find a rock and not smile?
Nancy: Some of these rocks are amazing. Do I need to know how to draw or paint?
Candice: It has amazed me to see all the different artistic styles. Each rock is different and unique. We have found some that are just words to more complex artwork. I love the fact that you do not have to be a great artist or have a ton of resources to participate. This is something that everyone can do! Also, my kids have wanted to explore our area more to see if others have put rocks out. They seem to always be on the look out
Nancy: I love this “pay it forward” spirit, are there any rules for Nona Rocks!
Candice: Anyone that finds a rock can keep it or re-hide it. Some of the rocks we have found had a special meaning so we have wanted to keep them to remember our day!
Pam: Funny story: Kaela, a student in this cohort, found a rock last week at Tijuana Flats. She said that she was so excited to leave hers so she can pay it forward. She painted the bee and the strawberry.
Nancy: Finally, what inspires you?
Pam: What inspires me? Kind kids who want to learn. And Lake Nona has an abundance of them!
Candice: My dream goal is to foster a stronger community where people take the time to show each other they care. This quote sums it up, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
To learn more about Lake Nona Rocks visit their Facebook group Lake Nona/St. Cloud Rocks!