Minto promotes activity and creativity with paint a rock program

A partnership between Horizon’s Queens North Community Health Centre (QNCHC) and the Minto Public Library has facilitated a paint a rock, plant a rock program that enriches whole-person literacy.

The concept of paint a rock, plant a rock is simple: you paint a rock, and leave it somewhere for someone else to find, and bring a little joy to brighten someone’s day.

This trend of painting and planting rocks has grown in popularity over the last few years. Painted rocks are left for others to find, collect, move to a new location, and often photos are posted on social media with hints of where to find them.

Katie Morrell, registered nurse at QNCHC, said the idea for the partnership with the library stemmed from the annual Kids Fun Run (hosted annually by QNCHC). During the 2019 event, they had participants paint rocks and take a local trail to hide them.

“Our plan was to go back and to take groups out to find them, but when we were supposed to go, it rained. So, we left them in the trail for anyone to find,” Katie said.

Ally Thornton, a summer student at QNCHC, said when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, they wanted to find activities for families to do together.

“We wanted something that emphasized mindfulness, and something different for people to do when really, there was nothing to do,” Ally said. “We really wanted to put a focus on the hiking and mountain biking trails that we have in Minto because they’re utilized, but it seems to be by everyone outside of the community.”

Building off that idea, staff from QNCHC put together paint a rock, plant a rock kits that include paint, brushes, stencils and a sample rock. These kits are dropped off at the library, where families can pick them up – at no cost. That’s it.

Also included in each kit is information for the Minto Mountain Bike Trails, where families are encouraged to plant their rocks once they’re painted.

Mary Lambropoulos, library manager at Minto Public Library, said once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all in-house library programs were halted, so when staff from QNCHC approached the library for a partnership that took library users out of the library, she was thrilled.

“It worked really well and fit really well with the timing because of COVID-19,” Mary said. “It’s really nice because they include the brochures for the biking trail, so it’s a wonderful physical literacy partnership.”

Mary said from the feedback she heard from participants was that it was enjoyed by both the younger and older generations.

“It’s a really great intergenerational activity. I spoke to a couple of grandmothers who expressed what a wonderful time they had with their grandkids,” Mary said.

One participant told her she spent part of three weekends with her grandchildren.

“The first weekend, they went out and found rocks, then they painted them the second weekend, and the last they went out to leave them behind for others to find,” Mary said. “And at the same time, they looked for other painted rocks people may have hidden.”

Mary said she is so pleased that people are taking advantage of opportunities for fun, outdoor activities.

“COVID-19 has affected everyone, but it’s so wonderful to have people outdoors and enjoying our trails,” Mary said. “What fun memories for those kids.”

Isabel Camp, manager of Horizon’s Queens North Community Health Centre, said the first priority identified in Grand Lake’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) was the need to address the increasing rate of adult overweight/obesity in the community.

“The CHNA was completed in 2015 but looking for ways to encourage community members to live a healthy, active lifestyle is always something we, as health care providers should always be doing,” Isabel said. “And it’s even better that the paint a rock, plant a rock comes with no cost to the participant.”

Katie Morrell graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2003, and then joined the Horizon team at Oromocto Public Hospital. In 2007, she transferred to Queens North Community Health Centre to work in palliative care. In 2009, Katie joined the team in the walk-in clinic.

At the walk-in clinic, Katie began running a high-risk foot clinic and other community programs. She’s part of a team that works to provide prevention and wellness programs for the community.

Katie also helps run three major community events throughout the year: the Harvest Fest, the Family Glow in the Dark Winter event, and the Kids Fun Run. All three events encourage physical activity, healthy nutrition, and positive mental wellbeing.

Katie loves working in her community to promote wellness and preventing illness.

Ally Thornton graduated from Minto Memorial High School (MMHS) in 2016. That summer, she spent her first summer working at Horizon’s Queens North Community Health Centre, where she’s returned to work every summer since.

Ally graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island in 2020, with a Bachelor of Science, and is completing internship placements to become a registered dietitian.

Over the five summers spent at QNCHC, Ally said she’s been so lucky to work alongside health care professionals on community projects, some of which include a nutrition fair at the high school, children’s cooking and physical activity programs at local youth centres and supporting the Community Food Smart programs.

Ally says working at Horizon has given her so many great opportunities and she looks forward to where she’ll go next!