Area youth and their families were able to get creative Saturday in front of the YMCA with sidewalk chalk. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Area youth and their families were able to get creative Saturday in front of the YMCA with sidewalk chalk. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – On Saturday, around 30 families gathered outside the YMCA to spend time together while creating art. For $10, each family received a pack of sidewalk chalk to decorate the YMCA's sidewalks however they pleased. The funds raised during the "Chalk the Walk" event helped the YMCA continue their family programs.

"This is just a way for us to raise money for our programs," said YMCA's Nicole Benson. "We're trying to raise money so we can do more stuff with kids and families."

Last year Benson initiated "Family Fridays" where families are able to attend the YM together for free to enjoy swimming, crafts, games, and other activities aimed at bringing families together.

"There are so many times where we get caught up in our busy lives that we don't make that time," said Benson who noted that the YMCA is trying to aid in making that time for families.

Everybody who participated was also entered in a photo contest to win prizes from places like Wild Willy's, Rocky Top, Olympic Lanes, the Van-Del Drive-In, and Van Wert Cinemas.

"It's a family pack and is another way to get families out together," said Benson of the prizes. "It's basically a family night away from the house."

Benson took photos of all the chalk squares after they were finished and published them on the YMCA Facebook page where the public could vote for their favorite.

Benson also invited the public to share family-friendly ideas they would like to see happen at the YMCA with them on their Facebook page.

"We want the community to let us know ultimately what they want out of us," she said.

For the event, the YMCA also joined forces with the Wassenberg Art Center to help promote the arts.

"We're trying to bring out the kids' creativity," said Benson. "And it's not just kids out here; the whole family came out to help decorate the sidewalks. We're about family here."

Benson said the YMCA plans to do the Chalk the Walk event yearly.