'No kicking penguins' leads to musical park

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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After going viral on the Internet, Colby Chipman's "No kicking penguins" drawing is helping make some music.

Out of a meeting between the autism society and Colby's mother and uncle, the Rotary Club of St. John's Northwest will help fund a musical playground at the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism in St. John's.

"We're ecstatic about this," said Michelle Chipman, Colby's mother and the woman whose actions prompted the autistic boy's sketch.

Colby Chipman and his 'No kicking penguins' drawing. -Telegram file photo

After going viral on the Internet, Colby Chipman's "No kicking penguins" drawing is helping make some music.

Out of a meeting between the autism society and Colby's mother and uncle, the Rotary Club of St. John's Northwest will help fund a musical playground at the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism in St. John's.

"We're ecstatic about this," said Michelle Chipman, Colby's mother and the woman whose actions prompted the autistic boy's sketch.

In October past, she kicked an inflatable penguin while walking down the hall of her Paradise home. Colby, 7, told her kicking penguins wasn't on, and then drew a sign depicting a woman kicking a penguin, in a circle with a diagonal line through it (like a "No Smoking" symbol). Labelling the picture were the words "No kicking penguins."

After seeing a T-shirt his aunt Paula Stacey made using the sketch, Colby's uncle, Craig Stacey, posted it on Reddit.com and his blog, robotmonkey pants.com.

It became an Internet sensation, circulating around the globe and spending a day on Reddit's homepage. Less than a day after it was originally put online, an employee at a British research facility in Antarctica posted a "No kicking penguins" sign outdoors and declared it official policy.

A Telegram story about what happened with the picture became the most viewed article in the history of the paper's website. The phenomenon received nat-ional coverage and was featured on "The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos."

It also prompted Colby's family to use the drawing to do some good. The boy's uncle Craig started selling T-shirts and other items on www.nokickingpenguins.org to raise money for autism research.

His mother and another uncle, Charles Stacey, used that meeting with Trish Williams of the provincial autism society to discuss raising funds and awareness.

Stacey, also The Telegram's publisher, mentioned during the talk he was involved with the Rotary club and its annual auction.

He mentioned they were looking for projects to support and Williams suggested the musical playground.

"I just thought that was right up Rotary's alley," he says. "We like to raise funds for assets that groups will have for a number of years going forward."

As a result, the Northwest club will give some proceeds from its April 23 auction to fund Rotary Harmony Park.

The club will also donate $50,000 from the event to the new Ches Penney Family Y.

The musical park will be built on the Elaine Dobbin Centre grounds near the Pippy Park walking trails. It will include various large, permanent instruments such as a marimba, drums and a xylophone for kids to play on.

Williams said the autism society is pleased to be partnering with the Northwest Rotary.

She envisions the facility being shared by children with and without autism - sometimes concurrently - as the facility won't be fenced and will be open to the public.

"We see the project being a real addition to our programs and to the community," she said.

"It's a way for children with autism to have typical social interaction and also a way of bringing the public to our centre."

Michelle Chipman says Colby was excited by pictures of the park will look like.

"I think when he actually sees it and sees it built and everything, he's going to love it," she said.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Elaine Dobbin Centre, Rotary Club

Geographic location: St. John's Northwest, Paradise, Antarctica Rotary Harmony Park Pippy Park Northwest Rotary

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Recent comments

  • Diane
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Wow, Colby you are such an inspiration to all of us. Thank you to the Rotary Club, Colby's family and everyone at Shamrock Farm. This is going to be wonderful for all ages.

  • Jenn
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I think this is a wonderful thing: plant the seeds charity with our young people and we'll watch it develop and grow forever. Bravo!

  • Grandma
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Well done Colby! Everyone has value and a purpose, you're beautiful smile gives a glimpse of your loving heart. Reminds us that God doesn't create junk May you rise to even greater things as you journey through life.

  • Bin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Great story - kudos to Rotary for taking on another worthwhile cause!

  • Diane
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Wow, Colby you are such an inspiration to all of us. Thank you to the Rotary Club, Colby's family and everyone at Shamrock Farm. This is going to be wonderful for all ages.

  • Jenn
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    I think this is a wonderful thing: plant the seeds charity with our young people and we'll watch it develop and grow forever. Bravo!

  • Grandma
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Well done Colby! Everyone has value and a purpose, you're beautiful smile gives a glimpse of your loving heart. Reminds us that God doesn't create junk May you rise to even greater things as you journey through life.

  • Bin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Great story - kudos to Rotary for taking on another worthwhile cause!