This Neighborhood Has Been Staying Connected During Social Distancing With Creative ‘I Spy’ Game

The first surge of rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic has receded and left necessary social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine in its wake, with no definite end date in sight. Millions are now facing the effects of loneliness, cabin fever, life in too-close quarters, and asking how they can still find community when told to stay apart.

One neighborhood is responding in a creative and uplifting way: an interactive game of “I Spy” in which people of any age can participate.

Emily Nelson, a resident of the Sunnymede neighborhood in South Bend, Indiana, created this game for St. Patrick’s Day using the neighborhood association’s Facebook group.

She asked residents to tape paper shamrocks to their front windows or draw them in chalk on their driveways—anything that would be visible to kids walking by on the sidewalk—for a shamrock scavenger hunt. Neighborhood kids could tally up how many they spied and post to the Facebook group.

The neighborhood response was tremendous, so Nelson drew up a calendar through mid-April with other themed days, including Disney characters, Mario, hearts for health workers, dinosaurs, and a bunny hunt. To make the outings even more fun, Nelson encouraged the walkers to embrace the themes by dressing in costume.

For any neighbors who didn’t have themed objects, decorations, or chalk to use, another neighborhood resident put together packets of coloring sheets that she could drop off in mail slots as requested.

Participation has been high. According to Nelson, she and her family saw more than 28 Disney characters posted around the neighborhood on the most recent day, March 21st, including princess dolls and a King Louie from Junglebook.

Even the mailman, according to one resident, took notice and asked about the sudden appearance of Disney items in windows.

Kids are not the only ones who have been excited; neighbor Carolyn Evans wrote to Nelson on the Facebook page, saying “We had a blast looking for characters today! What a fun thing for all of us to do! THANK YOU for putting this in motion and THANK YOU to all of our neighbors who are participating!”

Visiting on front porches, chatting on sidewalks, and playing impromptu football games in the nearby school’s baseball field are some of the usual ways this neighborhood stays close. Now thanks to Nelson’s “I Spy” hunts, grateful community members are a little closer to finding new ways to stay in touch.

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