A Belmont Junior Girl Scout troop has installed a rock garden at Twin Pines Park in Belmont to spread kindness in the local community dealing with isolation during COVID-19 this year.
Each rock in the garden has messages of hope and kindness painted by Troop 62457, consisting of fourth and fifth graders from Nesbit Elementary School and private schools in Belmont. The troop finished the garden last week as part of its Take Action Project for its outdoor journey badges. The troop has encouraged the public to take an individual rock home and come back and replace it with a rock of their own that provides a message of kindness.
Lisa Malloy, one of three troop leaders with Troop 62457, said the girls wanted a unifying message to help people feel better throughout the day. Some of the original rocks had uplifting messages to get through periods of isolation during COVID-19.
“The rocks were really all about kindness and spreading joy. They recognized that a lot of families were having challenges with the restrictions that we are under right now with COVID,” Malloy said.
The rock garden is part of the Take Action Project, intended to get the troop to think about what is going on in the local community and what they can do to improve it.
“They are asked to stretch themselves and think about ways that their impact can be lasting as opposed to a food drive or a coat drive, which are a once and done [event],” Malloy said. “The girls from start to finish had to look at what was the area or space they wanted to improve. They recognized that a lot of people were struggling right now with feeling isolated, being at home, not being able to be with their friends.”
They started planning and coming up with the idea in September and have spent the last few months putting the garden together while following social distancing rules. The girls split into several teams responsible for supplies, budgeting, marketing and installation to complete the project. When they came up with the garden idea, they wanted to share an interactive message with the community instead of being a static site while people walked by.
“They were looking for some way they could add kindness and fun to an outdoor space, and so they identified the rock garden as the way they wanted to do that,” Malloy said.
They came up with the idea from other kindness gardens they saw while researching ideas. The girls liked the idea of a local garden close to their school to walk through with their families. Belmont Parks and Recreation Department offered the troop a space in the middle of Twin Pines Park for the garden and worked with them throughout the process on installation and permit issues.
“They narrowed in on it pretty quickly once they saw some examples,” she said.
The troop also wants to make the rock garden sustainable. The girls are working on strategies for replacing the rocks, as many people have already come by and taken them home.
“We have been surprised that lots and lots of rocks have come and gone since we installed the garden only a week ago,” she said.
Most of the girls have not been able to see each other recently because of COVID-19 and instead have had virtual meetings. Although many go to the same school, the shutdown made it impossible for them to see each other in person. Planning the rock garden has allowed them to see their friends online and continue to help the community get through difficult times. Many of the project’s steps, such as painting the rocks, project planning and placing the rocks at the park, occurred virtually or while social distancing over the last few months, something that would not have occurred last year.
“I’ve really been impressed by their willingness to adapt,” Malloy said.