Spreading kindness

When someone finds a rock with a GoRock label, they simply enter the ID from the back of the rock at GoRock.com. There, they’ll see where that rock has traveled and be able to read stories from others that have found that same rock. Then, they re-hide for someone else to find.

PEPPER PIKE — Third-graders at Moreland Hills Elementary School are learning about kindness rocks by working with a business headquartered in Pepper Pike. GoRock, a worldwide network of painted rocks, works to spread happiness across the world, one painted rock at a time.

Michele Gehrmann of Pepper Pike used her professional background in technology to take a child’s game and turn it into an international business. Ms. Gehrmann said that she was on a bike ride when her daughter, now 7, found a painted rock. Although the mother was not aware of the game, the young girl knew that it is used to spread joy.

“Oh well that’s lovely,” Ms. Gehrmann said when her daughter explained the game.

According to Ms. Gehrmann, when someone finds a painted rock, that person is expected to hide it in a new location for someone else to find. The painted rock is meant to put a smile on someone’s face when he or she finds the rock, she said. Ms. Gehrmann said that her daughter wanted to put the rock on the buddy bench at school where kids sit while they are waiting for someone to play with.

“My daughter said that if you’re on the buddy bench, you’re not happy, but if the rock is sitting there you will smile,” she said. “That launched our family into this whole activity.”

GoRock was founded nearly eight months ago to track where the rocks travel and to notify the person when his or her rock is found in a new location. Once someone registers on the website, he or she receives a unique identification code for their rock, which allows it to be tracked across the globe. Someone who finds a rock can also login and use the ID number to see where the rock has traveled.

Ms. Gehrmann’s 9-year-old son is a member of Sue Hogan’s third-grade class at Moreland Hills Elementary School, and GoRock quickly became part of a kindness project. Mrs. Hogan’s students learned about kindness by writing kindness pledges for the New Year, which were hung up at the Popcorn Shop in Chagrin Falls.

According to Mrs. Hogan, the students pledged to make new friends, talk to someone who is feeling sad, give compliments, say hello to people and help their neighbors. Ms. Gehrmann heard about her son’s class project and offered for the class to take part in GoRock. The students painted rocks and are placing them throughout the community. Some rocks were already found at the Orange Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Ms. Gehrmann said.

GoRock is not just a family activity, however. Ms. Gehrmann said that GoRock has members in every state in America and in 30 countries across five continents, including Australia and New Zealand. To become a member, someone can visit gorock.com and sign up to join the community.

Outside of Mrs. Hogan’s class, rocks have been found at various Honey Hut locations and library branches in Chagrin Falls, Orange and Mayfield Heights.

“My daughter’s rock ended up in Poland,” Ms. Gehrmann said.

She said that this provides an opportunity to talk about geography for students also, since they can study on a map where their rocks are found. One class even joined GoRock from California to learn about geography. This activity is common among grandparents and grandchildren, as well, according to Ms. Gehrmann.

“A big portion of our membership comes from the senior community,” she said. “Retired people are using the website and painting rocks with their grandchildren.”

Ms. Gehrmann said that she is glad that the business brings families together.

“We like the idea of giving people an activity that is family friendly and brings people together and brings them outdoors,” she said.

GoRock currently offers a free trial that allows someone to paint and track 25 rocks for free, then there is a $9.95 charge per year for unlimited rocks. Ms. Gehrmann said that GoRock is in the process of moving toward a free model.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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