CHEK Upside: Brentwood Bay couple create inspirational rock shrine to help cure COVID blues

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With a table set up in their front yard, the arts and crafts assembly line begins with Bryan.

“My role is to do the base coat, so I get the easy job,” said a smiling Bryan Burns.

Then Amber’s artistic touch takes over — colouring in words of encouragement on rocks in which she places on their front yard display.

“It began with the Sooke to Sidney rock hunt and we were very prolific at painting the rocks,” said Amber Aitchison. “It got to the point where we were having rocks in our cars and not enough places to hide them.”

The elementary school teacher paints rocks nearly every day, aiming to provide a dash of inspiration and hope to her neighbours who walk by.

“We’re trying to give back to the community,” said Amber, who encourages people to take a rock home. “Just help people feel empowered and lifted up by words and just give them happiness.”

‘Build each other up,’ ‘You are loved’ and ‘Hold onto hope’ are just some of the messages found on the hundreds of rocks available.

“We want people to connect and this is our way of getting people to connect in the community,” said Burns, Amber’s long-time common-law partner.

The couple normally runs a side business that focuses on fun, team-building activities for companies and organizations.

Business, however, has come to a halt during the pandemic, so instead, the two are providing pro-bono positivity to their community.

There’s even a free library filled with their own self-help books which they encourage people to take home without returning.

“Through COVID, a lot of people are stuck at home and this is a chance for people to get a little smile on their face,” said Burns. “They come up now and they walk away and the smile is incredible when they see a rock that speaks to them.”

Since the pandemic started, CHEK News has covered stories involving many Islanders going above and beyond for their community.

Whether it’s the Island-wide hearts on a window campaign, the 12-year-old girl in Sooke writing positive messages to her Canada Post worker, or the Sidney hotel owner growing veggies for the local food bank — Bryan and Amber’s rocks are yet another example of Islanders showing they care.

“The little things definitely make a difference,” said Amber.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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