CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – As a result of the members of Sunshine Village’s creativity, fire hydrants in the City of Chicopee have been transformed into works of art.
The Lion’s Club in East Longmeadow painted fire hydrants for East Longmeadow’s 125th anniversary, which inspired the Chicopee project. An initial proposal for this project was made in December of 2019.
A total of 35 fire hydrant paintings were planned for April 2020 as part of the project. Sunshine Village promotes autism inclusion during Autism Awareness Month in April. Despite submitting designs and locations, the project was put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020.
Sunshine Village instead began the fire hydrant projects in April of this year. This project involves the painting of 6 hydrants in the Chicopee Center.
“We just wanted to spruce up the neighborhood, make it enjoyable for people coming by,” said five-year, Sunshine Village Direct Supports Staff, Michelle Beaudreau.
Over the course of the last few months, the Sunshine Village group has painted flags, M&M, Minions, Pac-Man, ice cream cones, and much more.
The project celebrates the artistic talents of people with autism spectrum disorders. 22News visited one event on July 12 to speak to some of the artists themselves.
One Sunshine Village artist explains what she enjoys most about painting fire hydrants, “it was really fun doing them and the best part is spending time with my best friends,” said Abigail Uszynnski. She says Beaudreau has inspired her to expand her horizons.
Another Sunshine Village artist, John Barrett added, “it’s creative, you get to think about what you like. Whether it involves plants, nature, tv shows, movies, or cartoons. Whatever it is that you really admire, signs of everything or pictures. Whatever is your favorite, you can always draw.”
Sunshine Village artists were thrilled to paint the fire hydrant outside of the Portuguese American Club on 149 Exchange St. Members of Sunshine Village painted the colors of the Portuguese Flag and put soccer balls around the fire hydrant. “I think they are going to love it,” expressed Beaudreau.
When Sunshine Village artists are painting, drivers will wave over to them, beep their horns, high-five the artists and tell them how much they liked their artwork. “I think it’s bringing a lot of joy, not only like to us at Sunshine Village and our clients, but everyone in the community,” added Beaudreau.
Beaudreau says it helps the Sunshine Village members show the community what they can do. Beaudreau says she and her staff try to make every day a great day for Sunshine Village members.
“We are to help them and support them, but they also do the same in return to us, they bring a lot of joy, they really do.”Sunshine Village Direct Supports Staff, Michelle Beaudreau
Beaudreau says the Sunshine Village members will be painting fire hydrants for at least another year. One of the upcoming projects to next keep an eye on in the Chicopee area will be a Where’s Waldo fire hydrant.