Dozens of children exchange valentines at Parks and Rec

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sixty-two children gathered at the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department Tuesday afternoon to enjoy lunch and exchange valentines with one another, enjoying the spirit of the holiday with those who love them.

Marianne Townsend, a parent with Carter County Drug Prevention, said the event came into being a few years ago to give home-schooled children a chance to have a Valentine’s Day party like many public school students have, and its importance is not just because of the candy.

“Since home-schooling is growing in our community, this is a great time to play together,” Townsend said.

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The several dozen students each brought in their own, home-made valentine boxes, each of varying designs from characters form the video game Fortnite to iconic move characters or even just valentine-themed decorations.

The boxes were part of a contest for different age groups, the winners receiving special candy as a prize.

Townsend said the reason these kinds of parties are important is the memories the children create.

“It is a part of childhood,” she said. “It is part of any kid growing up.”

She said the boxes being home-made means the children can spend time making something they can be proud of with their own hands.

Party-goers also got to spend time playing basketball or enjoying refreshments during their two hours together.

“The kids make friends, and they make each other feel good,” she said.

She said this is roughly the fourth year they have put the event on. What started as a gathering of 20 or so at the Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City has evolved into what it is today at the Elizabethton Parks and Rec.

She said events like these, even if drugs are not part of the conversation at all, are what CCDP is all about.

“When kids are happy, they encourage themselves,” Townsend said.

This kind of positive reinforcement and motivation, she said, encourages them to seek other ways of enjoying life rather than turning to more dangerous habits like drugs.

Townsend said she recruited for the party from the Tri-Cities Homeschool Playdate and Discussion group on Facebook.

For more information about the group, contact them at their Facebook.