What often comes after a dark and blustery storm? A rainbow!

Rainbows are a motivation for us to continue and endure the dark times.

Spiritually, rainbows signal an inner awakening. They are a sign of hope and promise.

Rainbows are also a symbol for good luck.

Hemingford resident Nicole Merrill has come up with an idea for a community wide rainbow hunt.

“All you have to do is put a rainbow in your window, that’s it!” said Merrill. “Color it, paint it, cut it out or print it from the printer then hang in a window at home or your business. It can be hard to find things to do all day, especially with kids!”

During this time of social distancing most people will be substantially increasing their time spent at home. She thought this would be a great way for the community to still get outside and do something fun - without touching or coughing near others.

Once your rainbow (or rainbows) are on display, “then get outside, walk around and see how many rainbows we can find. It’s a fun art project that becomes a great outdoor activity.”

She said she thought of the idea after seeing a similar idea in one of her mom groups.

“So, I tweaked the idea a bit and just ran with it,” Merrill said. “I thought in our smaller community that it would be a perfect distraction for the kids and a fun, family activity, especially with the warmer weather we have had. It also gets people out of the house, but at a safe distance from others. I've had several families share how fun it's been for the kids to find the rainbows and also how excited they get when they're home and realize other people are walking by and see their rainbows too.”

“The purpose of this little event was to unite our community through a family activity and give people a little hope during such an uncertain time. I know for my family, my kids look forward to our rainbow walk every day. It has helped shift our focus a bit and we have really enjoyed seeing all the creative ways people have made and displayed their rainbows,” she said with a smile.  

“Also, for me personally, a rainbow signifies hope,” Merrill said. “It has always been a reminder that no matter what is going on around me God has and will continue to take care my family and our needs.”

Along with the rainbows in the windows, Hemingford residents have taken to the sidewalk with colorful chalk artwork!

Hemingford Kindergarten Teacher Ammie Frost and her family have loved the family fun activity.

“Even Jake (her husband) showed off his art skills,” said Frost. “It is a positive example for our children knowing there can be a positive side to a negative situation.”

As a “people person” she said, “Being asked to practice social distancing has been a challenge. But the rainbows and chalk have shown that we are in this together. It really feels like we are all connected.”

Their children Zane and Abby have had some “interesting times” during this time of quarantine and not having school.

“As a teacher it flat out stinks!” Frost said. “I miss my students VERY much. It’s hard going from seeing them every single day to nothing. We have been interacting on Facebook through our class page and that has helped. Starting next week we will do some online conference calls.”

“As a family I have enjoyed the time that I’ve spent with my kiddos and husband,” she added. “We have done a lot of silly and fun activities like dress up yoga, LEGO challenges and started pen paling the kids’ classmates.”

Like everyone, “We’re making the best we can of all of this.”

Then there’s Bridgette Thompson, also an employee of the Hemingford Elementary School, who, with the help of her four children has been chalking up a storm!

“I think the rainbows and chalk has been great for the whole community,” said Thompson. “I have seen a lot of smiles amidst the darkened times, which really sets a whole new perspective for how amazing and positive our small town is.”

As for how her family is adjusting… “Well, to say the least my kids are slowly adjusting to this new lifestyle.”

“They have struggled a lot because we have been living a very busy non-stop life with school activities, traveling basketball and other sports, and workout classes...to nothing,” Thompson said. “For very active kids, it was hard to adjust. The rainbow hunts definitely have helped get their minds off of all the chaos happening. They have enjoyed walking all over town finding all of them.”

“With our busy life,” Thompson added, “the chalking has made us realize that slowing down sometimes does our body and souls good. We had a blast making what my kids call ‘street art’.”

Thompson is an elementary resource para here in Hemingford and is an instructor at The Body Shop where she leads the Youth Inspire class.

She decided to start up an online P.E. class to help keep everyone up and moving. The Facebook group is called Lets Get Movin’.

“I am so excited to get this going and be able to get the kiddos up and moving during this time,” Thompson said. “I know as a parent, it's always easier for someone other than Mom/Dad to get them to do a class.”

“I always encourage parents to join in if they want, the kids usually love it,” she said.

“It’s going really well so far,” Thompson said. “I’ve had people join from Alliance, Crawford and Gordon Rushville as well. All they have to do is request to join the group and they are in. I have a variety of workouts that I do which are for any age or endurance level, kind of like I am leading Youth Inspire class, just virtually.

“The first couple workouts were rocky...but it has gotten better,” she admitted. “So far from what parents are saying is that the kids enjoy it...which makes me feel like I'm doing something right.”

One thing that is for sure, these ladies are all doing something right! Staying active both physically and mentally during these uncertain times is a must for all of us. Staying connected through this time of social distancing is also important.

Are you doing what you can to stay active and connected?

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