A mother and daughter are attempting to inspire hope during the tough times by getting the community involved in an art project with snakes made of rocks spreading throughout Laredo parks.
The idea began with a local elementary school employee who saw what other cities were doing to create a better atmosphere in parks that were left amid the pandemic.
“I created the ‘Once Upon A Rockk’ Facebook page, but the name was created by my daughter-in-law Rebekah Mitchell as we originally started painting kindness rocks and spreading them around North Central Park for people to find and brighten their day,” Aurora Mitchell said.
Aurora is a computer lab aide at Matias de Llano Elementary School. She also credits her daughter Amanda Mitchell who will be a seventh grader at Elias Herrera Middle School as both of them allowed her to see how other cities had used the idea to spread their messages.
“We got the idea when we went hiking at a trail in San Antonio with my son and daughter-in-law,” Aurora said.
The first area they began to grow the snake was in North Central Park. People from the community have contributed their own pieces of art and have come to take pictures of the growing snake. Contributors are encouraged to decorate their rocks and include messages of hope. There is also a sign encouraging people to contribute a “kindness rock” to the pile or to take one home to enjoy.
“After I started the snake in North Central Park, other people started the same thing at other city parks like Slaughter Park and Century City,” Aurora said.
The growth of these snakes that all share messages of hope gas resonated throughout the city, and they have continued to grow over the past few weeks.
Aurora believes that as the snake grows, so does the message of love and hope, which is the main reason why they began the idea.
“The main message is ‘enjoy your family and spending time together during these trying, stressful times,’” she said. “Our vision was to have people of all ages adding their hand-painted rocks to the snake and in the process enjoy fun, quality time with their families. We are all pitching in to the COVID-19 snake together and making the park look even more beautiful.”
Another thing that has grown exponentially is the Facebook group as it has gone from just a few dozen members to more than 2,500. Aurora said she was surprised by the immense backing her group has received.
“When we started our Facebook page on May 17, 2020 we had 59 members, most of which were my family and friends,” she said. “Within three weeks we went from 59 members to 2,241 as of June 16. I’m speechless but very moved by the community response.”
Numerous families and parents have participated in the project as they get together and paint on rocks to contribute to the snakes.
“I think it’s a really great project that brought the community together to spread a little kindness and joy during these uncertain times,” said Camila Sosa, who participated with her daughters. “I think we’re all feeling very frustrated with the current situation, kids especially after being stuck at home for so many months, and this was a really fun way of connecting as a family while also getting creative.”
Sosa’s daughter also expressed enthusiasm about the idea and seeing other children like her get engaged in this community-oriented activity.
“I would say it’s a good thing because it feels like we’re all together,” said Scarlett Eguia, 7. “I liked it because it was fun painting rocks instead of paper and seeing what everyone else painted.”
Aurora invites everyone to participate in the cause as it is something everybody can do and something fun for the whole family while also providing an escape for a city that has been consumed by news regarding the ongoing pandemic.
“You do not have to be a good artist to add a rock to the snake at all,” she said. “All you need is a good brush, paints and a kind heart to help brighten someone’s day by painting a rock. The idea of this group is to spread love, kindness and joy.”
She also thanked many of her supporters that helped her create a community both in the real world and om cyberspace to shine light on this project.
“I thank God and everyone that has brought rocks to the snake so far and for coming together as a loving, caring community,” Mitchell said. “A big thank you to Mr. Gomez and Mrs. Briones for their help and support and also to my family for their support as well. A big thank you to my brother Juan Cortez for making the beautiful signs for us.”
People interested in joining the group and finding out more information can search for “Once Upon a Rockk” on Facebook