Partnership for children to virtually ‘Paint the Town Blue’
By KAREN THIEL
For the Washington Daily News
The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed plans for this year’s Paint the Town Blue event, but the staff and supporters of Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children are more determined than ever that the children they serve will get their annual chance to celebrate — and to be celebrated.
The partnership announced it canceled its annual Paint the Town Blue Children’s Parade and Festival, which is traditionally scheduled to coincide with Week of the Young Child in April, but added a twist.
“As we follow social distancing guidelines, we are taking our Paint the Town Blue Parade to a new level: we are going virtual,” said executive director Jessica Burnham.
The online parade will run via Facebook at 10:30 a.m. on July 15, featuring submitted short videos and photos of participants wearing blue and either posing, marching, playing or cheering one another on. Once posted, the event will be available for viewing by anyone who accesses the BHPC Facebook page.
Literacy and outreach coordinator Kris Bowen said Tuesday that the July 8 deadline for submitting photos and videos for the event has been extended through July 10.
“With the July Fourth holiday and its related vacations, we thought we just might want to give folks an extra couple of days. We have maybe seven responses,” Bowen said, adding that event organizers are hoping the extension will draw submissions from more of the approximately 700 participants who usually show up at the event, which has been held for more than 10 years.
“We are inviting all of our friends of children to put on a blue shirt, take a pic or video, send it to us and join us in our parade,” Bowen said, adding that submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the video.
The reinvented parade is not the only pandemic-related change made by the outreach. Bowen said the free “pat-a-cake groups” that have been so popular on playgrounds in Beaufort and Hyde counties are now “virtual play groups” shared between participants on Zoom. The play group meets at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and 2 p.m. Wednesdays. Those interested in getting their children involved should call the BHPC office to get instructions needed in order to digitally connect to the group.
Also new since the pandemic, BHPC staffers have created “drive-by cleaning supply events” child-care facilities.
“You literally drive by, and we are all masked up and gloved up, and we put the products in your car. You don’t even have to get out. We are all practicing social distancing,” Bowen said.
She added that the program is only available to child care providers whose businesses are currently open. The demand for those cleaning supplies is ongoing. Bowen said anyone interested in donating supplies can reach out to BHPC.
Burnham said the services they offer to children are even more important now than before the pandemic.
“Challenging times have placed additional stressors on families. The importance of bringing awareness about child abuse is needed now more than ever,” Burnham said.
“We just know that with the stressors from unemployment and parents also being their teachers and trying to wear so many hats, it can be overwhelming,” Bowen said. “We want to be here when they need us.”
Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a focus on serving the needs of young children in Beaufort and Hyde counties. A SMART START partner organization, BHPC is one of 75 partnerships covering North Carolina’s 100 counties. For more information, the outreach can be contacted at www.bhckids.org or by calling the office at 252-975-4647.