Preschoolers participate in annual Charlie’s Coloring Challenge

Charlie Cardinal, the Ball State University mascot, has never looked better. Or more colorful.

The children at United Day Care Center took some time on a recent afternoon to color in their feathered friend as part of the annual Charlie’s Coloring Challenge.

Scarlett Reed, 4, was putting the finishing touches on her Charlie Cardinal. Just a few more pink polka dots here and there and it was complete. She waved the coloring page proudly in the air. “I like pink,” she said. “I think Charlie does too.”

Ball State’s Office of Community Engagement and Ball State Athletics team up each year to offer Charlie’s Coloring Challenge. This year, 14 Delaware County daycare providers, with a combined total of 508 preschoolers, participated in the challenge.

“It’s just one of the ways we connect with the community,” Suzie Jones, a project coordinator in the Office of Community Engagement, said. “It’s so important to build and then continue those relationships with childcare providers in our community.”

Charlie’s Coloring Challenge began in 2018 and continues to be a great way to engage families with the university, especially its athletic events.

The family of each child who participates in the challenge will receive two complimentary tickets that can be used for their choice of upcoming women’s and men’s basketball and volleyball games.

And when they attend a game at Worthen Arena, they will see more than free throws and spikes. All of the artwork will be on display.

Ball State graduate Hanna Kadinger, director of operations at United Day Care Center, said a lot of families have attended the games over the center’s last three years of participation.

“I really like the community engagement aspect of the coloring challenge,” she said.

And the creativity, of course. Using finger paints, crayons, markers, watercolors and colored pencil, each budding artist put their own colorful spin on Charlie.

Noryeon Jackson, 5, used red, green, yellow and purple markers on his Charlie’s feathers. He said he usually colors SpongeBob SquarePants, so Charlie was a nice change of pace.

There was also a teal Charlie, a rainbow Charlie, even a green finger-painted Charlie, courtesy of an enthusiastic artist in the infant and toddler room.

“I love collecting the pictures when they are done,” Jones said. “And it’s amazing to see them all once they are on display.”

To see more coloring pages, go to the Office of Community Engagement Facebook page.