Edmund Rice Services – Mt Atkinson operates a community-based service in Melton’s growth corridor which is in Melbourne’s western suburbs. With the lockdown restrictions in Victoria growing into months, Mark Monahan, Executive Officer of Edmund Rice Services – Mt Atkinson recognised the need to provide extra support for its local community.
‘We recognised that these September school holidays were going to place extra strain, stress and heaviness upon our closest community at Mt Atkinson,’ said Mark. ‘After chatting with some community members, we learnt children are experiencing screen fatigue and their parents want them outside. We tossed around different ideas and landed on good old-fashioned Chalk. We decided to cover the neighbourhood in chalk!
Mark explained, ‘Children, and adults ‘young at heart’, enrolled and picked up their chalk from a local park. As Laura dropped the delivery of chalk, one neighbour approached asking “are you the chalk lady” – the sentiment of an Easter Bunny or a Mrs Clause! I think we have reached the point in our community of needing to know some fairies are out there.
‘Even though we are locked up in our houses, knowing people are still thinking of us – especially those community members that are isolated, restricted and feeling the real sense of blah.
‘Children showed their creative flare drawing whatever they wanted in front of their houses and at the local park, with random pictures and games that have crossed across generations such as hop scotch and four square. The biggest hop-scotch reached number 40 – including three doubles, what a work out!
‘When you live in a new housing estate, 20 months into a lockdown where your only place to exercise within 5km is a couple of new streets and one small park (with tradies whizzing around you) then a community project focused on chalk drawing was extremely appreciated.’Mark Monahan, Executive Officer, Edmund Rice Services -Mt Atkinson
‘After the devastating bushfires in Victoria and NSW, we learnt that we must listen to what community are really needing, including the often-forgotten children’s voices.’
The community has been deeply impacted by the project. ‘On any normal day, I doubt we would react much to receiving a text message saying “Thank you so much, hope you have a good day” or another such as “Thank you Laura to you and your team in Edmund Rice! (love heart emoji)”.
“Thank you (praying hands emoji) more power to Edmund Rice Team”, was another text message we received, which encourages our service to ensure community engagement is our mission for the next few years.