Dream come true for Alba, 6, as covid snake is cemented in Orchard Head Park
A little girl’s dream has become a reality as her Covid snake has been cemented in Orchard Head Park.
Mum, Sophie Stogden, from Nevison, began a community project to help her six-year-old daughter, Alba, cope with her emotions and anxieties during lockdown.
This community project has been ongoing since May, when the mother-daughter duo began to create an ever-growing snake out of colourful painted rocks outside Orchard Head School.
Now the snake, which is made up of around 600 colourfully decorated rocks has been given a permanent home in Orchard Head Park, just down the road from its original home, with the help of Wakefield Council.
Sophie said: “Usually Alba is a very shy kid, but having the responsibility of managing the rock snake brought her out of her shell.
“Lockdown really took us all back, and for children it can be even worse when they’re isolated with little to do - and they don’t know how to process their new emotions.
“But she’s been like a little project manager, the snake has given her something to focus on, and with school starting in September, getting the snake cemented has landed at a good time and it’s brought her through lockdown.”
Sophie came across the idea on a Facebook group, where she’d seen members of the public coming together to create ‘COVID snakes’.
To get the community involved, Sophie made a Facebook group called ‘Orchard Head Covid-19 Snake’ to encourage people of all ages to add their rock to the project.
After accumulating many decorated rocks placed by children and families, a meeting was held on Thursday July 30, with Coun Lorna Malkin, to find a permanent home for the snake to be cemented in, to commemorate the community coming together during lockdown.
Sophie said: “Seeing how many people had contributed to Alba’s rock snake, I thought it’d be great to get it cemented in place.
“I pitched the idea to Wakefield Council, asking them what permission we’d need and how to go about it.
“They really helped us out because we didn;t realise how difficult it would be to do it ourselves
“Our area councillor, Lorna Malkin, has been brilliant, she was able to liaise with the council, attended a meeting and put us in contact with official project manager, Gary Sherrington.”
“We’re really happy with the snake’s home and how quickly Coun Lorna Malkin put the idea into motion, we picked a spot next to the park, where we knew the children could look at it and where it would be safe.”
Sophie said she was concerned as the snake was Alba’s project, and hoped she’d get some creative input in the job.
But she was pleasantly surprised on Tuesday when the cementing process began, when the builders allowed Alba to help direct the project, letting her choose where rocks would be placed in the cement.
Sophie said: “Usually she’s such a shy little girl, but over the last few days we’ve been visiting the snake, people have been asking her questions about the snake and she was answering so articulately - for her that’s an amazing achievement.
“She was also asking the builders about the tools they were using and directing them on where she wanted the rocks to be placed.
“Seeing how the snake has helped others is just as incredible, we’ve had children who are shy, some of whom are on the autism spectrum and some people who are elderly and lonely who have all contributed to the rock snake and came to visit while it’s being cemented.
“The snake has really brought us all together, I couldn’t be more proud of Alba, she’s so organised - just like a mini adult, she’s still ecstatic about the snake having a home in the park near where we live.”
Coun Malkin said: “It's been a real pleasure to help arrange the permanent home for the Orchard Head Covid snake.
“I'm so pleased Sophie and her daughter were able to be involved in the installation process as they have been instrumental in coordinating and encouraging this fantastic community effort.
“It will be a lasting reminder of the community coming together during a very difficult time.”
The next step will be painting the wooden frame with colours from the rainbow, each person who placed a rock is invited to write their name on it to celebrate the community getting through lockdown together.
To find out more see Orchard Head Covid-19 Snake on Facebook