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Sunset Park Kindergarteners Use Artistic Touch to Spread Positivity

Sunset Park Kindergarteners show off their art in front of the Pueblo Police DepartmentAwash in vibrant colors, the, swirling rainbow-like creation simply vibrated positivity and joy, as did the bright, wide eyes of its crafter, who approached Pueblo Police Captain Jim Martin with the canvas-based gift in hand.

“Thank you for all you do for us,” the child said as he placed the painting into the hands of a beaming Captain Martin, who along with fellow members of the police department, gathered in front of the Pueblo Municipal Justice Center Friday morning to greet the gift-bearing Kindergarteners from Sunset Elementary School.

“This is definitely a great surprise to have the kids come over and show us how much they appreciate what we’re doing for the community,” Captain Martin said as his eyes perused the work. “We’re going to put these paintings up in the Roll Call Room, where the officers come in before shift, so they can see what the kids did for us and start the day off on a positive note.”

On the South Side, at Fire Station No. 7, another Captain, Ryan Moran, and two fellow firefighters received the same royal treatment, as did St. Mary Corwin Medical Center Emergency Room EMT Traci C and a member of the ER’s nursing staff. Sunset Park Kindergarteners carry their paintings to deliver them to first responders

A fresh set of smile-inducing paintings complemented by a heart-felt “We appreciate all you do for us” in gratitude for the noble and often life-saving efforts the first responders commit to on a daily basis.

As a Leader in Me School, Sunset Park requires of its Yearlings an annual Leadership Day project that reflects the development the youngsters experienced throughout the school year.

In the Kindergarten classrooms of Derek Flowers and Angelina Carocchi, the children decided on a community outreach that would spread some much needed sunshine throughout the community, especially to those who have provided essential and life-sustaining services throughout the pandemic.

And Positive Paintings for Everyone (PPE) was born.

“Our students decided it was time to add a little cheer to our community during a really challenging time,” said Principal John Hull. “The goal is to give a little smile back to our wonderful community.”

The advice offered to the Kindergarteners by Sunset Art Instructor Leslie Ridpath was succinctly simple.

“Paint anything that you want: just let your heart guide you.”

On Friday, the Yearlings spent the morning getting those spirit-lifting pieces – 36 in all, depicting flowers, sunshine-filled skies, rainbows and uplifting abstract visuals –into the hands of first responders, health care workers, and food service professionals.

St. Mary Corwin ER staff members show off the paintings they received“We talked it over with the kids and asked, ‘Who can we affect the most in the community? Who needs their spirits brightened?’” explained Mr. Flowers. “And they are the ones that said, ‘Let’s give it to the police officers and firefighters, and the people who own restaurants, and doctors and nurses.”

“The kids were so excited to be able to help out the community, and give back a little bit, because they know how hard it’s been this year on everybody,” added Ms. Carocchi. “We really wanted the kids to represent happiness and positivity, and the new summer season coming in.”

Kindergartener Max said his goal was to be a “good painter in order to make people happier. I painted swirly roses.”

Classmate Charlee put a rainbow on her canvas, “because it’s cool. I’m going to give it away because I want people to be happy.”

Those on the receiving end of the childlike and unexpected benevolence were truly excited to receive the handmade future masterpieces.

“This is great,” said EMT Traci. “We had no idea this was coming. We love seeking the kids come out and bringing us stuff. We’re going to see if we can hang them up in the emergency department and make everybody else around us as happy as well.”

 “I had no idea this was coming,” said Captain Moran. “This is great. We’ll be decorating our station with them, to bring a little happiness into this place.”

Also gifted with personalized expressions of positivity and good vibrations were Graham’s Grill, Little Caesar’s Pizza – Owner Dave Feamster is a longtime supporter of Sunset Park – and Pueblo Care Center.