Coping with COVID-19 through Kites

Borders closed – Blowing Point Port

In response to the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic, Anguilla closed its borders on March 20, 2020.

Since then, events like Festival Del Mar have been canceled, many businesses have opted to close or have their staff work remotely and, we’re practicing Social Distancing. However, one Easter tradition has become even more prevalent during the shutdown – kite making and flying!

The tradition of kite making and flying always occurs more around Easter time. My dad taught me how to build kites from the age of 5. During my childhood, we would build a kite every year. So, in honour of the tradition, I’ve built my 2020 kite and it’s flying right now!

This year’s level of participation has been extremely higher than usual and, COVID-19 has had a part to play in it.

We have more time… lots more time

There’s no doubt that we have more time on our hands since March 20. To cope, many have opted to learn new crafts, find new hobbies or just relax and do nothing. It has also afforded families the opportunity to bond more and building kites and flying them has that effect.

With many parents at home from work and children engaging in schooling from home, parents are homeschooling their children. They have employed creative means of teaching their children by including more explorative methods of teaching to keep their children engaged.

Kites have thus been used for teaching Art & Science because, how do you really get it to stay in the air like that, right?

80inch kite flying over 300ft in Meads Bay

People have also used this time to challenge themselves and their communities to build the smallest/biggest kite, the most beautiful kite, and even the highest kite. I recorded kites between 4 inches tall to 80 inches tall and some being flown over 600ft in the air!

Closed borders = Reduced flights

One of the biggest obstacles for many communities when it comes to flying kites has been air traffic. For safety purposes, many communities have been deemed No-Fly Zones for kites as the kites become obstacles for flights. This really hindered participation in the tradition.

Anguilla Kite flying and building Easter
100+ kites in Blowing Point on Good Friday

Anguilla’s borders were closed to flights on March 20, therefore, people have been free to fly kites in their respective communities. On Good Friday, I counted over 100 kites being flown on the Blowing Point Ball Field which could be seen from as far away as West End.

Socially Social Distancing – #KitesXUnity

Restrictions have been put in place to reduce the congregation of large crowds as a means of “flattening the curve” – preventing the spread of Coronavirus throughout Anguilla.

To-date, the number of confirmed (imported) cases on the island remain at 3 and, there have not been any internal transmissions of the virus. As such, Social Distancing is working.

However, as humans are social creatures, its no surprise that many have found difficulty coping with little to no physical socialising.

The high engagement is also due to an initiative by DJ Bless, Champ’s Annual Kite Fest and Taizdaze Charity called Kites x Unity.

Kites x Unity is an effort to spread love and unity throughout our island. It is a simple reminder that we are still #AnguillaStrong and together we can fight this battle and win.

There is so much that can be said, with no physical contact, through kites. It can tell persons you’re doing well; that you looking forward to seeing their kite in the air as well; or, spur some competition as to who can build the best kite.

When I was younger, I would compete with my neighbour who lived a quarter-mile away from me. Seeing his kites flying would motivate me to build my own and, even try out new building techniques. I could figure out what he was saying or thinking just by seeing his kite flying.

This morning, I heisted my 2020 kite and immediately saw that it needed more tail. At that moment, I heard someone shouting from far away “give her more tail, give her more tail!”.

It has been refreshing seeing the level of participation in this Easter tradition. There are so many photos and videos on social media of families flying their kite. It’s amazing to see so many kites being flown in one location and the variety of styles and sizes.

I hope to see this tradition, which teaches art and science and unites families, communities and the entire country, continue in strength!

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