Children’s artwork lines the windows of many houses throughout the Elk Valley. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

Elk Valley parents are keeping their kids busy during isolation

Numerous activities are popping up around the Elk Valley to keep children entertained at home

While social isolation rewires the nature of most everyday activities, those with children have the added challenge of keeping their young ones entertained. Thankfully, parents throughout the Elk Valley have devised a number of creative ways to ensure their youngsters spirits remain high, and their minds occupied.

In Sparwood, local mother Carmen Weber started a Facebook group called the Sparwood Scavenger Hunt, dedicated to kicking off a town wide scavenger hunt for kids.

In order to participate, homes tape a photo, cut out, or drawing of a shamrock to their window. Then, on their daily socially distanced walk, children search for all the clovers put up around town. As of April 1, the window creations switch to Easter eggs, giving youngsters hours of fun, not only making the new creations, but also searching for them. This being said, people have branched out artistically, and put up everything rom Purple Day signs for epilepsy awareness, jokes, animal photos, birthday greetings, funny faces, and encouraging quotes.

“I have four busy boys between the ages of two and 11, and they have a lot of energy that needs to be spent. So being cooped up in the house everyday tends to result in fighting and bad attitudes, which ends up driving us all batty,” said Weber. “I figured this was an excellent way to get them outside and give them a reason to run around the neighbourhood, while at the same time keeping themselves at an appropriate distance from others.”

Within the first 24 hours of creating the group, Weber noted over 90 shamrocks up in windows all over town. What started as a small initiative with her close friends, has turned into a municipal wide event with more than 220 group members.

“I think the idea took off for a few different reasons. It’s a way of connecting with others and bringing the community together, as well as an excuse to get out and get some exercise. It also gives kids (and adults) something fun they can do while still following social distancing guidelines,” said Weber.

Other activities Weber recommends doing with energetic children include listening to online radio dramas, playing board games, building Lego, reading out loud, and going on long walks around the block.

Families in Fernie have also jumped on the scavenger hunt bandwagon, with their own Facebook group titled Fernie Easter Egg Hunt with Social Distancing. Similar to Sparwood’s, in order to participate children are to decorate their windows with Easter themed art. After adding their address to a post in the group, they are to search for the decorations put up around town, and share photos of their families out on the hunt.

Another initiative tugging at heartstrings and keeping spirits high is the Birthday Drive Thru Facebook group, started in Sparwood and Elkford. In order to participate, parents make posts letting the community know when their child’s birthday is, and where they live. Those available to celebrate then arrange a specific time and place to meet in their cars. Congregating at the designated location, the celebrators form a convoy, driving over to the birthday child’s house. The honking of horns, holding up of signs, and yelling out of windows brings ample joy to children who otherwise cannot have birthday parties. Sprinkled throughout the Facebook group are tear jerking videos of the party convoys and smiling children.

The group was created by local mother Tiffany Rout, who wanted to find a way to rally the community together to spread love to birthday boys, girls, and their families.

“My son turns 10 in April, and I was gut wrenched thinking about his birthday. Then I had a bunch of cancelled birthday events pop up, and felt horrible for each of them,” said Rout. “I think it’s important that everyone knows we aren’t in this alone. We need to stick together as a community and come out of this as a community, not strangers…I’m a firm believer that social isolation doesn’t mean we can’t connect in other ways.”

Rout has also devised alternative ways to keep her children entertained at this time. Cooking, baking, and connecting over messenger have been helpful activities, as has starting a chore and homework list coupled with an indoor store for her children to spend their hard earned fake money at. Rout also recommends playing socially distant car hide and seek, wherein one gets together with other families to try and find each other throughout town.

Also getting in on the youngster fun is Organic Tan Fernie, who posted an Easter bunny colouring contest on their Facebook page. To enter the contest, children of any age are to colour the print out and like @organictanfernie on social media. Once completed, they are to take a photo of the finished product and post it online with the caption #organictanfernie. The contest runs from March 23 through to April 6, with the first and second place winners receiving $50 and $25 donated e-gift cards to Grow Fernie Children’s Boutique.

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A collage of drawings is taped up on a family home in Fernie. Photos Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

Kerry Wood and Kaileigh McCallum practice good social distancing techniques by staying at home. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford’s windows are covered in scavenger hunt drawings. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

A beautiful mural is painted onto a home’s window.

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