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Baldwinites look for rainbows in unsettling times

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Call it the great Baldwin rainbow hunt. A group of Baldwinites has been hanging up paper rainbows to encourage others to be creative and spend time outdoors — though a safe distance from others.

The concept, which sprang up on Facebook, is simple: color, paint, cut or print out a rainbow and tape it to your front door or window. Then take a walk around the area and count how many other rainbows you can find. The art project becomes an outdoor activity, encouraging neighbors to get fresh air without human contact.

“It’s amazing, because my son and I take a walk every day, and every day more rainbows keep popping up,” said Tricia Wilder, a district parent and kindergarten teacher. “The first day we went out, we only found one. The next day, we found three. Yesterday we found, like, seven.

“Over the next few weeks,” the Facebook post, shared by Wilder, read, “many of us will be increasing our time spent at home. It can be hard to find things to do all day  — especially with children — and not lose your mind.”

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered schools to close until March 31 to stop the spread of coronavirus. At press time, more than 20,000 coronavirus cases had been reported in New York, including more than 2,400 cases in Nassau County.

Public health officials urge people to avoid close contact with others and to take part in social distancing. The virus is believed to spread mainly between people within about six feet of each other and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Because many people have been self-isolating at home, and since schools closed March 16, fun activity ideas like the rainbow hunt have swirled on social media. In Baldwin, you can find rainbows on Grove, Spruce and Walnut streets, St. Luke’s Place and Rockwood Avenue, among other streets.

Baldwinite Sara Jamison, who teaches preschoolers at Community Nursery School, shared the idea with her class on an app called Dojo, which many kindergarten and first-grade teachers are using to communicate with students and parents.

“We’ve been sharing photos, videos as well as notes of positivity and staying connected,” Jamison said. “It’s been our light during this time.”

She said she walks with her 6-year-old daughter, Faye, a Plaza Elementary School student, and her 4-year-old son, Charlie, a Community student, daily in search of rainbows.

Wilder said she, too, used Dojo to assign students the art project. Every kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Plaza has assigned the rainbow hunt craft, Wilder said, adding she also suggested it to the upper grades.

“It’s a little bit of brightness in not great times,” said Wilder, whose son, Shea, a first-grader at Plaza, colored a rainbow.

“If it inspires more people in the community to put them up, that would be fabulous,” she continued, “because right now, I feel like we’re reaching students because a lot of teachers have assigned the rainbow as part of their art assignment.”

Baldwinite Loretta Cabagnot Crespo, who works as a pre-kindergarten teacher in the Lawrence School District, said she was on board with the rainbow hunt. “I thought this was a great idea for children and parents to do a community scavenger hunt,” she said. “Baldwin parents are the best.”

Another Baldwin resident, Marlene Burczyk, said her household contributed to the rainbow project. “Each one of my kids, along with the sitter, made a rainbow and hung them on the door,” she said. “They have since walked around the neighborhood and counted how many they find. Hopefully more people will get involved and add to the excitement.”

Baldwinite Rachel Freed said she and her son, 8-year-old Lucas, also crafted a rainbow, fit with a pot of gold and a leprechaun to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.

"I’m so happy to see so many  families participating," said Baldwin business owner Jessie Velasquez. "I haven’t started mine yet but I plan on doing one."