Rogers Park mother and son paint rocks to spread positivity during coronavirus pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- To lift their neighbors' spirits Michelle Vallet and Ben Garcia are painting rocks with inspiring messages, leaving them all over Rogers Park.

"We were sitting here and we thought, let's paint some happy rocks and we'll place them around the neighborhood and as people are out getting their outdoor time," Vallet said. "These rocks would just be happy little reminders that they're in a community and that they're people still thinking about them."

From the park, to sidewalks and even the beach, you can find these rocks anywhere. Each with its own, unique design.

Some have words of encouragement, like "Smile", "You Matter" and "Hope." While others have drawings of smiley faces, flowers, even the Chicago Skyline.

A lot has changed in the last week. Major events and conferences canceled.

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Schools around the state are closed until April and most recently, Illinois restaurants and bars can only serve food via delivery or carry-out.

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People are encouraged to stay home to help prevent spreading COVID - 19 and with that, Vallet and Garcia said people can start feeling lonely pretty quickly.

"What I hope is that if their day is down here, seeing a little bit of color and a nice message will take it to up here, which is slightly less awful," 13-year-old Garcia said.

Until things get back to normal, the mother and son duo will continue sitting in their living room painting rocks, trying to put a smile on your face in the best way they know.

"We'll get through as a community and even though we can't spend as much time face to face and in restaurants and at the beach, those days will come back," Vallet said.

Jalyn Henderson is a Community Journalist at ABC 7 Chicago. She tells stories on the north side of Chicago in neighborhoods like Uptown, Edgewater, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, West Ridge and Rogers Park. If you have a story to share in these neighborhoods you can send an email to
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