It was Spring of 2021 when we were inspired by another NSG project (see Creative Connections) which led to our project idea: Connecting at Home Learners. Due to the pandemic, many families had chosen to stay home to learn this school year and were doing the best they could. However we would hear over and over again that isolation and lack of social interaction was the hardest part for many families. Our goal for this project was to connect our school community by bringing together families who had been learning from home in a new and different way from what they were currently experiencing.

Initially our application idea of connecting our transitional (at home) learners was to offer 3 opportunities for families to connect online; 1. A clay craft, 1. A yoga session, and 3. A “cooking” session. However we had to modify the idea due to time restraints as the end of the school year was fast approaching. We really wanted to lead a project before the end of the year as there were still 30 families at our elementary school who have been learning from home since September. Our goal was to connect them with our school community. And so we worked with our project manager to modify our original project. We decided on one zoom session in which we would guide them through the rock painting progress. With the grant money, we arranged for 30 rock painting kits from a local small business in our community that included: a set of acrylic paints, a finishing gloss varnish, and 2 paint brushes for each family. This was inspired from the Steveston Rocks art challenge last summer. In addition to the painting kits, we provided 4-5 rocks to each family. In order to contact the families who were learning from home, we reached out to our school Principal. She was inspired by our idea and decided to make it a whole school event!

And so, “Connection Bulldogs” began with an email with our project idea on a flyer and an email contact provided. Before the end of the school year, we were able to connect 30 families from our school community online through our Zoom rock painting session. Families RSVP’d, we arranged drop off of painting kits and rocks, and sent an email reminder of the online session that included the Zoom link and reminders of Zoom etiquette. On the Friday night of our session, we had families with students from Kindergarten to Grade 7! We began with short introductions, provided some students the opportunity to say hi to a friend, and then shared an informational Powerpoint about our personal rock painting experiences. After, we painted together and shared our ideas and inspirations. Families were then encouraged to finish painting their rocks at their convenience, finish by adding teh gloss varnish and allow to dry before dropping them off to the school a few weeks after.

The students learning in the school worked on their rocks and teachers used our powerpoint to “learn” how to paint rocks together. It was so exciting how despite being in a pandemic, people in communities inspire one and other. Due to unforeseen circumstances, our culminating ‘rock garden’ has been put on hold until the next school year. Currently all rocks completed by in school students and those who participated at the school in our rock painting project are inside the school waiting to be placed into or embedded into a community rock garden! Thank you to Richmond Gives, Richmond Cares and Neighbourhood Small Grants Richmond for supporting our project and providing us with this grant to connect students during a challenging school year!
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