Ally Shedd’s dream of starring as Belle in C.W. Davis Middle School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” was torn away from her when schools closed because of the pandemic.
“I was really sad, especially since we’ve been working on the show since September,” Ally said. “I was in denial at first and was very distraught.”
Over the past couple of days, Ally and her mom, Mai Shedd, turned to their community in Sterling on the Lake to find ways of conjuring light during a depressing time. After hearing about the neighborhood’s Chalk Your Walk challenge, they grabbed packs of chalk and set to spreading positivity.
Maggie Shay, activities director at the Flowery Branch subdivision, said she started Chalk Your Walk in the community as a way of lifting people’s spirits. She has encouraged households to draw positive images or write uplifting words on their driveways or sidewalks with chalk provided by the neighborhood’s clubhouse.
“We’re a very active community, and it’s been difficult for me to not put on events and see people,” Shay said. “I’m still trying to find ways to stay in contact with everybody, but just in a different way.”
Ally Shedd drew a giant beach scene in her driveway and wrote underneath it, “Coronacation.”
Mai Shedd had planned to take her daughter to see theater performances in New York during spring break.
“I’ve been trying to make the best of this whole quarantine thing,” Ally Shedd said. “My mom has always told me you can choose to be sad, but you can work a little harder to be happy.”
Ally Shedd and her mom didn’t stop with their driveway. They decided to draw vibrant images and write pieces of Bible scripture in front of their older neighbors’ homes.
“Some elderly people want something to brighten their day as well, but they can’t get out,” Mai Shedd said. “One elderly gentleman who was just diagnosed with heart failure and had knee surgery came out to thank us. He likes fish, so we went ahead and drew a fish and wrote, ‘Enjoy the little things.’”
Main Street Gainesville has also taken to spreading cheer through chalk. Instead of having a First Friday concert on Roosevelt Square, Nicole Ricketts, Gainesville’s Main Street manager, has called upon the city’s residents to express their Gainesville pride with chalk art.
“We’re helping people remember that we’re still in this together and reminding them of the things we love about our town,” Ricketts said.
People are encouraged to take pictures of their chalk drawings and place them in the comment section of Main Street Gainesville’s most recent Facebook post, or tag their photo with #GVLGA on Instagram or Facebook.
Ricketts said those who participate will be entered for a drawing to receive a gift card from a downtown business. The contest ends Sunday, April 5.