St. Stephen masters the art of fun, community activities, and social distancing

Submitted photo The Town of St. Stephen has created a community calendar of activities people can do while maintaining social distancing. There are lots of crafting projects, and they have also put together craft kits that will be given to residents for free while supplies last.

St. Stephen – Just because people can’t go out in groups to have fun, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t have fun with their families. Obviously, going out and socializing is not an option right now, but the Town of St. Stephen has come up with something else to keep families busy and active. They have created a Community Calendar loaded with fun activities and craft projects families can do together.

Michelle Vest, events coordinator for the Town of St. Stephen, said she came up with the idea after the success of the recent teddy bear hunt. Her children loved being able to get out and look for teddy bears, and she decided St. Stephen needed a continuation of that project, with different activities for people to do every few days while still maintaining social distancing.

“I have a 10 and a 13-year-old,” said Vest. “They wanted to get out of the house and do something. The teddy bear hunt was awesome. It was fantastic. We (Town of St. Stephen) got together and said, ‘what can we do to keep this going’. We want to encourage people to maintain social distancing, but also get out of the house and participate, to be a part of the community.”

After a bit of brainstorming, the idea of a community activities calendar was born. It is loaded with projects and activities people can do while they are not able to take part in their normal daily activities.

“A lot of people have done the teddy bear hunt, and they don’t want to do it again. So, we have come up with something new every few days. While we hope that we don’t need to go until the end of April, we planned for all of April” said Vest.

Vest said last Monday, a post was put on the town of St. Stephen Facebook page, asking residents what they’d like to see for activities. There was a lot of feedback given, and that feedback was made into a community calendar. Many of the ideas were crafting-related, and Vest said they knew that a lot of people might not have the supplies necessary for various crafting projects.

“We realized a lot of what people wanted to do is arts and crafts related,” said Vest. “But, not everyone is in a place right now to do that. A lot of people have been laid off. A lot of people are financially insecure. People in our community that may not necessarily be able to afford to go out and buy arts and crafts supplies right now can still participate.“

Vest picked up craft supplies in bulk at Dollarama, and she, along with the help of others working in the town office, set out to create craft kits that they would give to people for free upon request. She said everyone involved with this project has food safety certification, so they were all able to work on putting the crafting kits together in a way that minimized as much risk as possible.

“We’re hoping we don’t run out,” said Vest. “There weren’t that many arts and crafts supplies left that we could get our hands on. We will deliver the kits next week. The requests have already started rolling in.”

Anyone who is interested in learning more about the community calendar and the various crafting projects and other ideas can visit the Town of St. Stephen, the Garcelon Civic Center, and Downtown St. Stephen Facebook pages. She said the pages have photos of the calendar, explanations of the various activities, as well as each of the crafting kits they have prepared.

“For Easter, we’re doing a build-a-bunny,” said Vest. “You’re going to get Styrofoam plates and other items, and you can build a bunny and put it in your window. We’re encouraging people, let your children paint on your windows. It’s washable paint, so put Easter eggs on your windows. On Easter Sunday, we can go for an Easter egg hunt.”

There are also activities for members of this year’s graduating class from St. Stephen High School, who are not sure if they are going to have their Grand March and other grad activities this year.

“At the end of the month, we’ve got stuff for our grads. Our grad class is suffering so greatly from this. I had an international student who was staying with me and just left yesterday because she was from Germany and they recalled them home. She and her Canadian friends had already gone dress shopping. They all had their dresses, and now they may not get to wear them.”

Vest said they are trying to engage the community, and show the world that people in St. Stephen care about one another and want to take care of each other in any way that they can. She said they want people to have some fun and be silly, while still respecting all of the social distancing rules.

“There’s so much going on. When you put all of the little pieces together, it’s too much and it’s overwhelming. If we can just take one small thing and just make it happy for a short period of time for people. That’s all we’re trying to do, make it happy for people, just for a little bit if we can.”

Vest said the Town of St. Stephen has been wonderful about the creation of the community calendar crafting kits. She said when she first proposed the idea, everyone was completely on board because they knew it would be something to lift the spirits of residents. She said they just want to cheer people up.

Anyone who would like to get one of the craft kits, while supplies last, can email events@town.stephen.nb.ca, or call 467-1428 and provide their name, address, and first and second choice of kit. Available kits, while supplies last, include a Light Up St. Stephen lantern, a Build a Bunny and Easter Egg kit, a Thank you Frontline Workers and Messages of Hope kit, an Earth Day and Springtime Silliness kit, and a Sip & Paint kit.

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca