Family project makes child’s dream come true

by Stephen Dafoe

Nine-year-old Antonio Ricioppo always wanted a treehouse in his backyard, but when the family moved to Bon Accord a few years ago, the house they bought didn’t have any trees on the property.

“He was disappointed, so my husband promised to make him a fort someday,” said mom Tara Ricioppo, an art teacher at Morinville Community High School.

This spring, father and son built the “sky fortress” over three weeks. But it needed something more – a dinosaur theme. That’s where mom came in.

“In all my years of being an art teacher, I don’t think I’ve ever painted a dinosaur,” Ricioppo said. “I tried to persuade him that trees would be cool— I can paint trees—or a camouflage design—easy. But nope, he’s pretty interested in the Jurassic World movies these days.”

But Antonio had faith in his mother’s artistic abilities, despite Ricioppo outlining the difficulties of painting up on a scaffold.

“You’re good enough, mom. You can do it. Just think of it as a giant canvas!” was Antonio’s reply.

Ricioppo said she couldn’t say no, and that it was a great way to pass the time these days.

It took her two weeks to paint, and Antonio helped her paint the background, just as he helped his daad build the fort.

“I am thankful for my son in having so much faith in me, and I’m grateful to God for my creative gift,” Ricioppo said. “[It’s] a gift that I can share with my boys and which led me to my career as an art teacher for which I feel truly blessed to have.”

The fort is not quite finished yet. Some braces will be added to the posts, then Ricioppo will be painting those to look like trees holding up the structure.

Below are some photos of the work in progress:

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