OAHU, Hawaii – Sidewalks across the island of Oahu, Hawaii, serve as a seemingly endless canvas for service members and their families to create works of art with the simple stroke of a piece of chalk. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the national event, aptly named “Chalk the Walk,” has become a beacon of hope for many during the recently announced social distancing directive.
Shared on the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Facebook page, this simple event asked residents to, “Grab some chalk, get out of the house for a bit and add some cheer to our sidewalks.”
In order to do this, the post instructed them to, “Write messages or create games (hopscotch anyone?) for your neighbors to see or play when they’re out for a walk.”
Anyone participating was encouraged to share what they wrote or drew in the comments section of the post which now has more than 100 comments, many of which are pictures of their completed, or in progress, works of art.
Diana Gibson, a military spouse living on Wheeler Army Airfield, heard about the event after it was shared on her husband’s unit social media and immediately knew it was something she wanted to participate in.
“With the gloomy weather and the lack of social interaction, I feel if one child was to go outside on an afternoons walk and go “oh cool my favorite character!” that’s a win for me because they are happy in that moment,” she said.
While Gibson draws recognizable movie characters along the sidewalk in front of her house, others are writing positive messages or bible verses as their method to help cheer people up during this time.
For many, this event is about helping others find happiness during a time of crisis; for others it’s a way to enjoy time with their children when playgrounds and parks are all closed off.
“I told the kids that I have a surprise life size coloring sheet. Since it was so big I told them it's a race to beat the sun,” said Argelia Diaz, a military spouse currently living in Kapolei, Hawaii. “I also told them that once we finish, we could send pictures to my husband that is stationed in Korea at this time. They loved the idea.”
Diaz’s children are also enjoying transforming their driveway and sidewalk into works of art. Diaz’s 14 year-old son, Elijah, said he is excited about his artwork and that it, “makes me feel accomplished because we might have impacted someone’s life.”
Elijah’s nine year-old sister, Gia, echoed this sentiment of impacting others saying, “It makes me feel good; happy inside, and I would say that it's so awesome.”
While this was intended to be a one day event, walking around the island would make someone think otherwise as there is a seemingly endless amount of new artwork showing up along walkways and driveways every day.