Parents struggle to find activities for kids


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Eric Stennes and his 9-year-old daughter, Elle, a student at the Viera Charter School, take a break from playing tennis at the Clubhouse Park tennis courts near Ralph M. Williams Jr. Elementary School in Rockledge.

Ernest Arico

Although sporting events, festivals, church services and schools remain canceled and closed because of the coronavirus, many residents and families in the Viera, Suntree and Rockledge area are trying to cope by finding activities to keep children and families busy.

Officials have recommended people avoid social contact, but some residents find it very difficult to do so, especially with the great spring-like weather here in Brevard County.

Niki and Eric Stennes and their two children Evan, 10, and Elle, 9, who reside in Plantation Point in Viera, decided to spend a recent afternoon playing tennis at the Clubhouse Park tennis courts near the Ralph M. Williams Jr. Elementary School in Rockledge.

“We’re trying to do family things together,” Niki Stennes said. “We play outside a lot. We have a pool at our home so we’re doing a lot of swimming, and because we live near this park, we come here to play tennis and basketball.”

Niki Stennes, who works for Ellington Properties on U.S. 1 in Rockledge, and her husband, Eric, an employee of D.R. Horton, a home construction company, have been sent home from work because of the coronavirus.

“If we stay inside, we play a lot of games like Uno and Yahtzee and do online activities,” Niki Stennes said.

Both of Stennes’ children attend the Viera Charter School and now are doing classroom and homework assignments online.

 “I’m glad they have that option,” Niki Stennes said. “That will enable them to keep busy.”

Health experts recommend you do five things to help stop the spread of the coronavirus: 

• Hands: Wash them often

• Elbow: Cough into it

• Face: Don’t touch it

• Space: Keep safe distance

• Home: Stay if you can

“The important thing is for people to use common sense,” Niki Stennes said. “If you’re sick, stay at home. In the long run, I think we’ll be OK.”

Amy Wilson of Satellite Beach said her 15-year-old son, John, a sophomore at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, is staying busy by boating on the Banana River and helping friends lay sod.

“Right now, we’re just trying to get out and enjoy the weather,” said Wilson, who is semi-retired but does some work for Health First. “I’m stepping it up a notch and taking extra precautions to stay safe and healthy. “

While officials continue to recommend people stay indoors and avoid social contact and gatherings, some residents are going outdoors to bike, walk, sit at the beaches and parks, and like Rolando Jackson of Rockledge, enjoy the many retention ponds and lakes to pass the time away by fishing.

“I can’t stand being cooped up in the house,” he said, while fishing along Murrell Road in Viera. “It’s peaceful and quiet and the weather is great. No one is around to bother me.”

Cassie Stephan of Melbourne, a court reporter who lives in Old Riverview Heights, said her family passes the time by playing Cornhole.

Cornhole is a lawn game in which players take turns throwing 16-ounce bags of corn kernels at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. 

“We're not going anywhere so we might as well enjoy the weather and play outside,” she said. “We are taking this (coronavirus) very seriously and taking steps to eat healthy and stay healthy.”

Health experts also suggest that if you stay indoors and want to survive social distancing here are seven tips for you from the website booksamillion.com:

Get comfortable: This is a scary time to be in the world, but the best thing we can do for each other is stay away from each other. That means getting as cozy and comfy as we can possibly be. Wash your hands, crawl under the covers and give yourself permission to relax.

Have two more books than you think you need: No matter what, it’s always good to have backup books.

Learn some skills: All of those things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had time because you were too busy. Better yourself. Now you have time to start.

Clean: When life feels chaotic and out of control, cleaning can relieve some of that stress. It will give you a little bit of control back.

Cuddle with your dog: Your dog literally wants nothing more than to spend all your time with him, and all of a sudden, you’re quarantined. The world might be a little chaotic right now, but the more time you spend with your dog is your dog’s dream come true.

Play games: If you’re quarantined with your friends or family, it’s time to pull out some games.

Self-reflect: Maybe the scariest of them all — it might just be time to spend a little bit of time with yourself. Take time to read, breathe and reflect.