Brentwood subdivision scavenger hunt during Coronavirus

Bryson Martin, 10, and his sister, Olivia, 6, and Hudson, 4, count paper hearts that were placed in the window of a home in the Brentwood subdivision in Dothan on Thursday.

Paper hearts are scattered around Dothan’s Brentwood neighborhood, but they’re not leftover Valentine’s Day decorations.

Nearly 30 households are participating in a no-contact scavenger hunt for neighborhood children to help ward off some of the boredom of social distancing that is encouraged due to the spread of COVID-19.

The crafty idea started when a mom of four, Courtney Martin, posted the idea on the subdivision’s Facebook group Wednesday, encouraging others who have children to participate in the activity.

“I was nervous about posting it,” Martin said, but her neighbors seemed excited about the idea and agreed to join in on the fun. “It’s helped break up the day a little bit and do something that is safe right now.”

Martin’s children — ages 13, 10, 6 and 4 — spend part of their day doing schoolwork assigned by their teachers at Northside Methodist Academy.

Martin said the idea came from seeing another friend post about a similar scavenger hunt in her neighborhood, using shamrocks for a St. Patrick’s Day-themed hunt to celebrate the holiday.

Since the coronavirus has spread closer to the Dothan area, Martin said she’s had to distance her family from friends and relatives to protect her 10-year-old son, who is immunocompromised and would be considered in a high-risk category. Fears of contracting the potentially fatal illness have limited the opportunities for children to interact with others.

“He was crying the other day,” she said. “I was trying to think of ways to cheer him up and make him happy. … I thought maybe, if we did something like that, it would be a good way to get him out of the house to distract him a little.”

She said the idea of the hearts came from a culmination of thoughts.

“Honestly, I can’t draw. I was thinking hearts are a sign of love and anyone can make a heart. I felt like that was the easiest thing to do,” Martin said, adding it was also inspired by the “Love Dothan” campaign.

Parents have helped their kids cut and decorated paper hearts to stick to their front-facing windows or doors in visible locations.

Lydia Scarvey, a stay-at-home mom to a 3-year-old, said the activity suggested by her next-door neighbor seemed like a fun thing to do to encourage some outside time since she can’t take her son to the park.

“I’ve learned that I’ve already taken so much for granted, how much time that play dates and going out eats up the day,” she said. “When you’re told to stay home, you realize how much time there is in a day.”

Scarvey and Martin’s children already spotted some hearts pasted to the front of houses Thursday and hope to see more houses participating soon.

“We went on an hour-and-a-half long walk earlier. It just helps to keep him engaged to tell him to be looking for the hearts,” Scarvey said. “We’re hoping that maybe if we’re doing it next week, it will keep us focused on our walk and not get bored.”

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