TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — Some families on Tybee Island are spreading a little joy to the residents of Oceanside Health and Rehab, one colorful masterpiece at a time.
Parents and children of the group Tybee Tots began drawing on the windows of the nursing home a couple of months ago as a way to cheer up the residents, who haven’t had visitors inside the building during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tybee Tots parent Lea Lynch says after speaking with nursing home coordinator Lisa Perry, she learned that some of the elderly residents had started to feel some of the negative effects of the isolation.
“They’re really missing the socialization they used to get from visitors at the nursing house, and they had a strict no-visitor policy at the time,” Lynch told WSAV.com NOW.
Her family has also been actively involved in community efforts like the social distancing-friendly Bubble Up Now campaign, the “Refill Holes” Sea Turtle Safety project and the creation of the Sting Stopper kit for jellyfish wounds.
“[Lisa] pointed out that it was having a negative effect on the residents, and they’ve lost out on this opportunity to visit with other friends and neighbors in the community,” Lynch said.
The Tybee Tots decided to add some brightness to their days with their creative window art project.
To maintain social distancing, one family visits the facility at a time, and each uses their own pack of markers to avoid the spread of germs.
The unique effort, Lynch says, offers the youngest generation a chance to connect with the oldest generation in a safe way that helps combat isolation and depression during this period of separation.
“It’s very much an interactive project, and the kids get a lot out of it as well, because many of the kids who are participating are also feeling some negative effects from the isolation that we’ve had for the last few months,” Lynch said during a phone interview.
“They haven’t been able to participate in the same activities that they might normally be joining during the summer months, so this project has served as an opportunity for them to get out in the community and do something that is engaging for them,” she said.
The art project has left a positive impact on the nursing home’s residents, too, said Perry.
“They truly, truly enjoy it,” Perry told WSAV.com NOW.
“Some meet me in the mornings asking whose window is being done today, those that are taking a nap wake up to see their windows done and others watch as the kids are doing the windows,” she shared, adding, “It makes a huge difference.”
The kids and parents have drawn colorful designs on at least 30 of the nursing home’s 75 windows thus far.
“The artists come at a scheduled time so that we don’t have an unpleasant surprise for anybody on the other side of that window,” Lynch said.
“If the resident is awake and interested in visiting, they actually get to visit with the window artists while they [draw],” she said. “It’s not just an art project, but it’s also an opportunity to wave, smile and connect with each other while the window art is happening, which makes it really special.”
The families use markers specially designed to draw on glass, and the overhang above the building’s windows has helped to preserve many of those designs despite the rain.
“We usually try to come up with a theme,” said Kelly Jones, whose daughter and son, Elia and Knox, have drawn on eight windows so far.
“[We’ve had] our ocean theme, a party theme and we’ve had flower themes, and I think today they are doing hearts and rainbows,” Jones told WSAV.com NOW.
She says her children have had a blast decorating the residents’ windows, and hopes other cities and communities will offer something similar for their elderly population.
“[It] kind of helps makes things a little easier for people right now and gives the kids a way to give back,” Jones said.
Other Tybee residents and groups, like the Mermaid and Pirate Club, have participated in the window art project.
Lynch says Tybee Tots welcomes other families to join in.
“During a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents at Oceanside are arguably the most at risk of anybody in this community,” Lynch shared.
“It really is heartwarming to see my friends and neighbors stepping up to help make sure those residents are protected and cared for, both physically and with their mental health,” she said.
To contact Lea Lynch about participating in the window art project at Oceanside Health and Rehab, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.