The Chipley community brought families together through art today. The Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida hosted it’s 5th Annual Children’s Art Festival.

Hundreds of people packed Shivers Park today for the event.  Activities included painting, coloring, dancing, molding clay, making jewelry, and more. But the event was about more than that – community. 

“In this busy world, this crazy, hurry up, gotta get it done world, taking a few minutes to slow down and be family – there’s nothing greater,” said ELC of Northwest Florida Executive Director Lynne Eldridge.

“This is my first time out here, and this has just been a thrill. It’s something great for our community, and it’s free. My kids have just had a blast,” said Chipley resident Amanda Pait.

Families had the opportunity to watch performances by local artists and dancers and take part in hands-on arts and crafts, some getting their hands and clothes dirtier than others. 

“We’re all covered in paint and sand, and, then, we gotta come back through and collect our projects. They even have things for us to take home and some books,” said Pait.

One station was doing more than making art, though. The Green Dot Program, which aims to prevent bullying and violence in Washington and Holmes County Schools, showed that everyone is better together. 

“One child can throw one balloon, and there’s not much of a change on the canvas. However, when you get several children and several students throwing several things, it covers the canvas. We’re demonstrating that’s how change occurs in society,” said Green Dot Program Coordinator Milton Brown.

Brown says that through the program, he is trying to teach children that they have the power to change culture.

“We wanna stamp out violence. We wanna stamp out bullying in the schools, and we’re telling each one that no one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something,” said Brown. 

Brown says that he wants to ensure that future children will one day go to school and not even be able to imagine any kind of bullying occurring.