Chalk the Walks event spreads joy through chalk art

Alex Peru
ClarkCountyToday.com

VANCOUVER — The sun-bathed sidewalks outside Vancouver City Hall were splashed with colorful chalk art on Tuesday, as part of The Joy Team’s annual Chalk the Walks event. Visitors were encouraged to take chalk and write messages of encouragement on the sidewalks.

Children were given chalk and were encouraged to tap into their creativity to spread color around City Hall in Vancouver Tuesday at the annual Chalk the Walks event. Photo by Alex Peru
Children were given chalk and were encouraged to tap into their creativity to spread color around City Hall in Vancouver Tuesday at the annual Chalk the Walks event. Photo by Alex Peru

The event was hosted by The Joy Team, a local Vancouver nonprofit founded in 2010 by Michele McKeag Larsen and devoted to building community “by spreading joy, optimism and inspiration,” according to its website. Participants in the Chalk the Walks event carry out this mission by writing positive messages and drawing encouraging pictures on public sidewalks.

This year’s event was the seventh year The Joy Team hosted Chalk the Walks, but was the first year they partnered with the City of Vancouver, Larsen said.

Parents helped their children draw on the sidewalks and joined in the Chalk the Walks event in Vancouver Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru
Parents helped their children draw on the sidewalks and joined in the Chalk the Walks event in Vancouver Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru

Larsen said that Chalk the Walks started about a year after The Joy Team was founded. The idea initially spread on Facebook, and the event now is held in cities across the United States and in several other countries as well. The main Chalk the Walks event was located in downtown Vancouver outside City Hall, but Larsen said that at least 35 other locations in the Vancouver area were hosting Chalk the Walks events.

Sidewalk chalk is inexpensive and easy for people of all ages to use, Larsen said. By drawing chalk art on city sidewalks, Larsen said that joy can be spread by engaging with people “on a personal level.”

A chalk artist draws a message encouraging unity among people at Tuesday’s Chalk the Walks event in Vancouver. Photo by Alex Peru
A chalk artist draws a message encouraging unity among people at Tuesday’s Chalk the Walks event in Vancouver. Photo by Alex Peru

Members of the Vancouver community came out by themselves, with friends and with family members to draw on the sidewalks and write messages of encouragement. Hannah Miller attended the event with her son after hearing about it on Facebook and through a flyer at the Boomerang coffee house.

Miller said that the event was “pretty awesome” and “pretty inspirational.”

The normally gray sidewalks in downtown Vancouver were awash with color during the Chalk the Walks event Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru
The normally gray sidewalks in downtown Vancouver were awash with color during the Chalk the Walks event Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru

Several international visitors also attended the Chalk the Walks event. The Martensson family came from Sweden to visit relatives in the Vancouver area, and stopped by the event. They said that the event was interesting to see, and that “it’s a good way to spread happiness.”

To recognize the City of Vancouver’s partnership with The Joy Team in hosting the event, Mayor Timothy Leavitt issued a proclamation at a city council meeting Monday night establishing August 15, 2017 as Chalk the Walks Day. Leavitt encouraged residents to “participate in spreading joy throughout our community.”

Positive and encouraging messages abounded in the chalk art at the Chalk the Walks event Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru
Positive and encouraging messages abounded in the chalk art at the Chalk the Walks event Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru
The Martensson family was visiting Vancouver from Sweden and stopped by Chalk the Walks, sending greetings from across the Atlantic. Photo by Alex Peru
The Martensson family was visiting Vancouver from Sweden and stopped by Chalk the Walks, sending greetings from across the Atlantic. Photo by Alex Peru

In addition to providing chalk, Chalk the Walks at City Hall also featured music and refreshments from an ice cream truck and a Funky Fresh Juice truck.

Judi Bailey, a spokesperson for the city of Vancouver, said that while 2017 was the first year the city partnered with The Joy Team, “it was a great event and city workers look forward to participating in future years.”

More information about The Joy Team and Chalk the Walks can be found online at http://thejoyteam.org/ and http://chalkthewalks.com/.

Community members of all ages took time out of their day to enjoy the sunshine and participate in the Chalk the Walks event Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru
Community members of all ages took time out of their day to enjoy the sunshine and participate in the Chalk the Walks event Tuesday. Photo by Alex Peru
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