BEAR HUNT: How Ozarks are practicing social distancing in a unique way

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Schools are closed for the rest of the year, and all group activities have been canceled. Parents are coming up with clever ways to keep their kids active, and entertained.

For Jackie Norris, it was a way to keep her son with asthma from being scared.

“He asked me, mommy should I be scared? I knew I didn’t want that for my son," Norris said.

She saw on Facebook other communities were doing a stuffed bear hunt, Norris jumped on the idea to start one in Mt. Vernon.

Norris contacted her friend at the Chamber of Commerce, sent out messages to other Mt. Vernon residents, and started putting up bears in windows.

Pam Dudley, the Director of the Chamber of Commerce, said, "We had no idea it would grow it's own legs and become popular among our businesses and our home communities."

When Norris and her kids went out on the hunt today, they found 81 bears. She knows there are over a few hundred more to find.

The bear hunt is springing up all around the Ozarks. You can find bears in Aurora, Nixa, and even Springfield.

“I had a wagon come by with little girls in there with their dad," Dana Mullane, a Springfield Resident, said.

All the kids are making a game out of it, counting the bears, drawing maps, and graphing out what types of bears, or other stuffed animals, they find.

“Just smiling, and forgetting for a moment, the chaos that’s going on," Norris said.

The bear hunt gives families a chance to explore the community.

“Don’t make it a fun thing to do with 10-15 kids, spend time with your kids," Norris said.

Getting outdoors, being active, while still practicing safe social distancing.

“This time is short, it won’t last forever, and we can get to the other side," Dudley said.