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'Spread positivity': Lompoc siblings use chalk art to raise spirits amid coronavirus pandemic

'Spread positivity': Lompoc siblings use chalk art to raise spirits amid coronavirus pandemic

Despite being in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis that has left them mostly confined to their home, young Lompoc siblings Jose and Delilah Lemus decided they couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.

Inspired by a desire to lift the spirits of their neighbors and surrounding community, the duo recently used colored chalk to transform the sidewalk outside their eastern Lompoc home into a makeshift trail of motivation.

The artwork, which includes bright colors and upbeat messages, has already caught the attention of many who live and work in their neighborhood, including some of those who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a lot of negative people and people who are scared, and we just want to spread positivity,” the 13-year-old Jose said of his and his 10-year-old sister’s motivations.

Brianna Mora, the siblings' mother, said Jose approached her last week with the idea to create positive messaging in front of their home, which is located near the intersection of East Walnut Avenue and North Fourth Street.

That location proved important as it is near several medical complexes and is just feet away from the Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s Comprehensive Care Center, which is a senior-care facility.

“They knew that some doctors pass by here and some medical assistants and nurses, so my son was like, ‘I want to do something to keep them positive and bring a smile to their face,’” Mora said. “I said, ‘OK, that’s fine.’ Then when I came outside and they showed me, I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting all this. I was just expecting it in front of our house.”

The artwork starts at the beginning of the sidewalk at the Fourth Street intersection and passes in front of at least a few residences. Among the messages displayed within the art are: “Stop the spread! We could do this!” and “We’re strong together, Lompoc!”

Jose said the siblings planned to take the art further down the sidewalk, “but we ran out of chalk.”

Delilah said she was immediately on board after hearing her brother’s pitch.

“He started drawing and then I got ideas, so I just starting drawing stuff, too,” she said.

Mora said Monday that the artwork had already gotten some rave reviews after its first weekend on display. She said that a doctor expressed joy upon seeing it, and some strangers have walked past and thanked the family for raising their spirits.

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“[Jose] was actually hiding on the other side of the fence to see people pass by,” Mora said of the first day after it was completed. “There were a few people who recorded [videos] or took pictures and said that it put a smile on their face. So that makes me happy.”

Jose, who attends Lompoc Valley Middle School, and Delilah, who attends Hapgood Elementary School, acknowledged they’ve been bored at home over the past four weeks without school, but they said they’ve enjoyed working on their special home project together.

Mora said this isn’t the first time her children have sought to make a positive impact on their community. Jose, she said, has asked to spend time with residents at the Comprehensive Care Center — some of whom can be seen through windows from the corner outside the family’s home — and they’ve proposed other ways to help people over the years.

“They’re good kids,” Mora said, smiling as she looked at her children and their chalk art. “They think about other people and not just themselves. They love to help others when they can.”

Coronavirus Series: Local impact and reaction to COVID-19 on the Central Coast

We are working hard to get answers about the impact and reaction to the coronavirus in Santa Barbara County, this is a collection of those stories. Do you have a question about coronavirus in Santa Barbara County? The Santa Maria Times news staff will work to answer your questions. Post them to our Facebook page, or email MCooley@SantaMariaTimes.com.  You can support the work of local journalists working hard in your hometown by signing up for a News+ Membership online

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base for the Lompoc Record. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.

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