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EaDo neighbors connect during coronavirus pandemic through messages written in chalk

"It’s OK to be mad. It’s OK to be depressed. It’s OK to be happy," said Laura Nicoloff. "And we just have to find ways to communicate that."

HOUSTON — Have you heard how neighborhoods are chalking their walks?

It's when you decorate neighborhood sidewalks with inspiring messages and images written in colorful chalk.

We could all use a little extra color these days.

How do you share your voice, when there's no one around to listen? Five weeks into social distancing and Houston residents are learning that words can be felt, even when shared in a scribble.

"We just have a lot of people walking this trail," said Laura Nicoloff who had the idea to buy dozens of pieces of chalk, so her neighborhoods could "chalk" the Columbia Tap Trail.

"Posting notes of encouragement and just expressing their feelings of how they’re living through this bad situation," she said of the messages.

Nicoloff is a dyslexia specialist for Houston ISD. She helps people express themselves, even in a pandemic.

"We’re together. We’re together in this," she said.

She started leaving chalk along the trail, between Paige Street and Ennis Street, a couple of weeks ago.

"It was emotional to see how we have that need to express and to talk to each other and we’re unable to do it," she said.

People stop walking, cycling and even running, to grab a piece of chalk and scribble a message onto the concrete.

"We’re not alone. And even though we do feel alone in our houses, everyone is going through the same thing," Nicoloff said. "It’s OK to be mad. It’s OK to be depressed. It’s OK to be happy. And we just have to find ways to communicate that."

The bucket of chalk, with instructions written on a piece of cardboard, is why 7-year old WIll was allowed to stop his morning walk. He colored his rendition of the popular comic strip, Calvin and Hobbs.

These days, you don't have to walk a mile in someone's shoes to understand what they're going through.

"I told my neighbor, 'I just want to go and hug you and I don’t want to let go of you.' And we just started to get emotional. And I said, 'I just need you.' And it was sad. Because she’s next to me and I can’t do it," Nicoloff said.

Hang in there, Houston.

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