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UNION GROVE — Adults with disabilities enrolled in day service programs at Achievements by James, 1014 Vine St., have begun a new community caterpillar project involving painted rocks.

They are rocking forward and looking to unite the community through their ever-growing caterpillar made out of painted rocks.

The caterpillar, who is currently not named, resides at Village Square Park off of Main Street in Union Grove.

Social media sparks idea

The birth of this community project came to be, thanks to a post made by a community member in a local Facebook group.

The post showcased a photo of a snake made of colorful and vibrant painted rocks which lined the sidewalk.

Adults with disabilities begin new caterpillar rock project in Union Grove
An unnamed rocky caterpillar resides at Village Square Park. Adults with disabilities enrolled in programs at Achievements by James have started the project as a way to connect with the community. – Credit: Achievements by James

Executive Director, Rebecca Bursek, noticed the post and jumped in volunteering Achievements by James to take the lead, kicking off their own project.

The location was decided by community members with the help of Julie Hubbard, Executive Director of the Union Grove Area Chamber of Commerce, and Village President, Steve Wicklund, who gave the green light for the project.

Getting to work

Adults with disabilities begin new caterpillar rock project in Union Grove
Individuals from Achievements by James often make their way around Union Grove connecting with locals and local businesses. – Credit: Achievements by James

Individuals who attend Achievements by James have taken this project by storm, jumping to it and getting rocks painted.

“I paint, I go out,” says Richard Sapko, a participant at Achievements by James.

Being immersed in the community is nothing new for this group.

They regularly visit the Municipal building in Union Grove to clean, they stop for coffee and conversation at Just Brew It, find enjoyment when painting at Seven Seas Creative Space, and grab snacks at Pine Acres General Store.

They’ve even had their hand at painting rocks before to hide around town for people to find.

“We like to just be involved in the community,” said Bursek.

Although they are active in the community, not everyone is aware of their involvement in the program, which began in 2019.

This new community project is helping to change the narrative and educate people about how important it is to provide opportunities for adults with disabilities so they can experience a meaningful life.

Adults with disabilities begin new caterpillar rock project in Union Grove
Rocks have been painted by participants at Achievements by James. The community is also welcome to paint rocks and add them to the ever-growing project. – Credit: Achievements by James

Get involved

“This is a community project, so far it’s been well received. We’d like to see people, businesses, and visitors add a rock to the caterpillar,” said Bursek.

Community members are already taking the leap to get involved. The first way was by submitting names for the rocky caterpillar. So far, 26 names have been submitted.

From 2 p.m. today until 2 p.m. on Friday, people are welcome to vote for their favorite name on Achievement’s Facebook page. They will also announce the winning name on their page after voting closes.

Adults with disabilities begin new caterpillar rock project in Union Grove
Community member, Liliana Arias, 4 years old, adds a painted rock to the caterpillar. – Credit: Achievements by James

Want to do more than just vote on a name? Paint a rock and help the caterpillar grow.

“The goal is to see how far we can get with community involvement, and visitors,” Bursek said. “Ideally, it’d be pretty cool if we could have it wrapped around the square. It’s starting on the south side of the square and it’s heading out west. We’d like to see (it) gradually make its way north and then east.”

Adults with disabilities begin new caterpillar rock project in Union Grove
Richard Sapko has been helpful in getting the caterpillar project up and running. Some of his painted rocks have already been added to the community project. – Credit: Achievements by James
Adults with disabilities begin new caterpillar rock project in Union Grove
Achievement by James participants hanging out at Village Square Park. – Credit: Achievements by James

Community members are welcome to place their painted rock behind the last rock of the caterpillar’s body. People are asked to only contribute. Do not take rocks from the project.

To learn more about Achievements by James visit their website. Updates about the growth of the project will be available on Facebook.

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