One Lafayette businesswoman is doing what she can to help people make it through the pandemic - with squiggles.
Aileen Bennett, who describes herself on her Facebook page as a Strange thinking English woman / Creative Director / Idea Thinker-Upper / Brand Experience Consultant, is using a favorite experience from her childhood to engage kids and grown-ups in a creative activity every week.
"I grew up in England, and the local paper ran this contest every week. I entered it every week, and I loved it, because I'm not the world's best artist but I could always be creative," Bennett says.
The concept is simple: Every week she draws a "squiggle," and posts it on a public Facebook post on her wall. Anyone who wants to can participate: all you have to do is use that squiggle to create something. It can be done on paper, but also on a phone or tablet.
Bennett first just put it up because she saw her friends struggling to keep their kids occupied at home after schools were closed. Something coming from the outside always seems more engaging, she said.
"So I put it up last week, for fun, and immediately we had people want to give out prizes," she said. "It has become this wonderful thing that kids and grownups can do. Everyone can enter. We've had entries from all over the world. People just see it as a part of their day that's fun."
She said parents are sitting down and working on their squiggles with their kids, and having creative discussions.
"People have sent me videos of their kids drawing, and talking about what they're doing, and honestly I cried," she said. "It's a break. It's a different way to think for a few minutes. And if we can encourage kids to think differently, maybe we can save the world."
On the Wednesday following the squiggle post, Bennett creates a post for people to enter their finished works of art. Every week there are different judges to select the winning artwork.
But even those who don't enter can still participate, she said.
"It's about creativity. I was surprised when grown ups entered, but they have. We had a cat enter this week, and it's only week two," she said. "And people who aren't even entering, they're getting joy from looking at the entries."
Bennett said the contests aren't a lot of work, but even if they were that would be OK.
"We didn't expect it to get this big, it's just worked out that way," she said. "But if it makes it easier on somebody, it's been worth it."
Here are the posts from this week's contest.
Here's the first one:
And here's the post calling for entries - be sure to look at the entries!
And here's the winner: