A Pleasantville Grandfather with Parkinson’s Disease found reasons to smile–thanks to #Chalk4Joy.
By Maddie Stone
April 5, 2020, Pleasantville, NY– Bill Casey watches from the deck as his three grandchildren, Katie, 13, Abigail, 10, and Michael, 7, turn his patio into a canvas of uplifting messages. Currently in his 70s, Bill suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, making it exceedingly difficult for him to move. Heartbreakingly, Bill cannot be near his grandkids right now.
“It’s hard to be away from the ones we love,” remarked Kim Wildey, daughter of Bill and mother of the three grandkids. “My father always says that his grandchildren keep him young and we knew he was missing all of us and our visits.”
The kids decided to rally their grandfather’s spirits by decorating his patio with sidewalk chalk as he smiled from six feet away.
“The chalk drawing meant a lot to both us and our PopPop,” Katie reflected. “It made us feel happy and we loved seeing him smile. We are trying to keep him safe from COVID-19 so this was a nice way to surprise him.”
It seems people are craving togetherness, as we’re encouraged to be apart, and possess a desire to bring beauty and inspiration into what is an unsettling time. One way of achieving this is through outdoor chalk art creations.
Social media sites exemplify this trend as people post pictures of their driveway and sidewalk creations. The phrases “Chalk the Walk” and “Chalk4Joy” have sprung up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and across social media. This viral sensation has exploded and found its way to Westchester, as locals have been “chalking their walks” with colorful murals and inspirational quotes to try and make the world a slightly better place.
By the way, my name is Maddie Stone, and I’m in 7th grade. I’m a kid. Shocking, right? I may be only 13, but I know we are going through a pretty rough time right now, so taking a moment to spread a little bit of joy using bright colors and intricate designs is exactly what we need.
I loved seeing the creations other kids made and the imaginative ideas they developed. It was nice, with all the stress and worry, to see beautiful masterpieces instead of dispiriting facts and figures.
Even more fun than seeing the drawings was making a drawing. My family and I worked very hard on it, using a variety of colors and patterns. We made a heart, a peace sign, and a drawing of Earth with people holding hands. We also included several phrases such as #togetherapart, don’t stop us now, and, in a flourish of patriotism, spelled out the letters U.S.A. We were definitely pleased with our final product, and were filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
There were four main reasons why making a chalk creation was fun. First, it was nice to venture outdoors and enjoy some fresh air. Going outside in a period where it is so easy to stay indoors and sit on the couch is even more important. Second, it felt good to know other people would see my drawing and maybe what I was doing would brighten someone’s day. Third, I got to spend time with my family. I find even though we are stuck in our house together all day, we rarely get together, all four of us, and do something fun. Finally, fourth, it provided a sense of accomplishment during a mostly powerless time.
We are pretty helpless in times like these, when everything relies on medical professionals and we’re forced to wait for the outcome. Right now, the only viable option is to try and do something that may impact someone else in a positive way, even if just slightly.
This was a great experience. We created something pretty, enjoyed time as a family, and completed our afternoon knowing we had developed something inspiring that might affect someone, somewhere, somehow. Many cars passed by that day. All I can do is hope someone looked out the window.