I was visiting my mother in North Carolina for Mother’s Day when I saw the pictures on social media of the Outreach Center family during a recent Bible Study.
The ELCA Outreach Center has Bible study every week on Wednesday and Thursday. When the weather permits, we like to have it outside in our garden. Kenosha had a rare (for this spring) rain free, warm day. I saw the post on Facebook of how the Outreach Center family took advantage of this day. They got out the sidewalk chalk and wrote their favorite Bible verse on the parking lot, or drew a picture. The absolute joy that I saw on the faces of everyone involved made my heart soar.
I asked Megan Burgess (Outreach Center legal advice coordinator) how this came about and told her how happy the pictures made me feel. Megan told me that Karl Erickson (executive director) gave everyone the choice of staying inside or going out and playing with the chalk that had been donated.
Please note that these are adults. This sort of thing may seem very simple, but the value cannot be underestimated. I think that as adults we forget the value of play. Some of us have forgotten the simple joy that drawing with sidewalk chalk can bring. Some of us were not given much opportunity to play with unrestrained joy as children. Megan also told me that it was an experience that she will not soon forget. Everyone participated, including a wheelchair bound young woman who was laid down to be able to draw. (She drew until she became uncomfortable). Karl told everyone that even though the rain would come and wash the drawings and verses away, it just meant the we can do it all over again.
As spring turns to summer, our garden begins to grow and our Summer Youth Program starts. Close to 150 elementary school children will be able to play, learn and have new experiences. The children who participate will not be denied the simple joy of expressing themselves through art and play. They will be using copious amounts of sidewalk chalk. We will keep some for ourselves at the center. We will use that chalk as well as many other programs we have to help heal the child in us that forgot or maybe never learned how to play.
All are welcome to any programs that we have. We have various programs to help us become better human beings. Bible studies are held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Thursday at 10 a.m. Come by and maybe, on a nice day, you can help us decorate the parking lot!
Mary Zorn is the administrative assistant for the ELCA Outreach Center.