Painting the city | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo by Jim Muchlinski Local children from Ghent Vivian Hennen, Hattie Hammer and Beckett Buysse paint stones at Jojo Schroepfer’s home daycare center in Ghent. Rocks come in many sizes, shapes, colors and designs. After being painted and coated with sealer, the rocks are placed throughout the community.

GHENT — Children at a Ghent daycare center have a surefire way to beautify their community.

They paint medium sized rocks in a variety of colors, patterns and themes. Later they take the rocks with them on walks and place them in visible places.

Day care provider Jojo Schroepfer said the rock art started in 2017 with a project to honor dads on Father’s Day. Each child made a handprint on a rock with a message such as “You are great dad.”

“I was trying to think of a good project for Father’s Day, something we hadn’t done before,” Schroepfer said. “For Mother’s Day, we usually do some type of floral theme. I thought the rocks would appeal to dads.

The project went so well that she decided to regularly offer the children the opportunity to paint rocks.

Soon after, some of the finished rocks began to appear all over Ghent – in the city park, the local cobblestone path, the city’s rolle bolle courts and several commercial venues.

“We have become known for this” Schroepfer said. “People love them and notice when we release new ones. Some even donated stones and paint.

Rock art is created during the summer months. The process includes a series of rock hunts where people search for a special rock. Several sponsors offer gift certificates to those who find them.

“We kept local stone hunts,” Schroepfer said. “We spread the word by word of mouth. Some parts coincide with our celebration of Belgian American Days.

She said she keeps the painting process simple, the kind of thing preschoolers can enjoy. Sometimes children create multi-colored patterns. In other cases, they completely cover the rock with a single background color, on which she adds letters or other details.

She teaches them to avoid mixing wet colors because the result is almost always a brown rock surface. She applies a sealer to the stones before they are placed outdoors, which allows the paint to withstand rain.

Schroepfer has been a childminder in Ghent for 41 years. She started daycare since she went to school for child development, and also as a way to stay home for her own children.

She now has several children in daycare whose parents attended her daycare in the past. She has always enjoyed the daily routine of daycare.

“It’s a fun job”she says. “I have always enjoyed working with children. That’s what God wanted me to do.

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