A new mural project slated for Eldon Ross Pool will have local youth getting involved in community beautification while continuing reinvestment efforts in the area.
The city recently chipped in $6,000 to help Take Pride Winnipeg commission well-known muralist Mandy van Leeuwen to paint the mural with the help of local youth from Brooklands School.
Take Pride, which has commissioned more than 200 murals in the city since 1997, is making more of an effort to involve school children and community youth, said executive director Tom Ethans.
"It’s always important to do this kind of thing. (The students) take a little bit of ownership," he said.
"The kids in the neighbourhood love it because it’s theirs now."
Van Leeuwen will work with students on the mural throughout October. It is slated to be mounted on the wall before winter, Ethans said.
Van Leeuwen has more than 50 murals across the city, many of them in St. James and the West End.
Having youth involved in the project gives them a unique experience outside the regular routine of the classroom, she said.
"Having artists visit our schools (when I was young), definitely pushed me and took me where I’ve gone so far," said van Leeuwen, who lives in St. James.
"If I hadn’t had those opportunities, I wouldn’t have been exposed as much to the cool things you can do with creativity. It made me realize how important that is for young minds to develop by being involved in the creative process."
Brooklands principal Rex Ferguson-Baird said each one of the school’s 150 kindergarten to Grade 5 students will participate in the project. The school looks to join partnerships that are educational and build community capacity, he said.
"This community benefits when its members have an opportunity to partake in developing itself," he said.
Getting youth actively involved in building their community gives them a sense of ownership that helps curb issues like vandalism and property damage, he added.
"When kids are involved in community actions, they have ownership over it. In this day and age, when we’re combating things like graffiti, by having kids involved, it really does show that kind of stuff gets reduced," he said.
Area Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) said the mural expands on recent investments in the community, such as the expanded community club at Pascoe Park and a new $200,000 splash pad for Eldon Ross pool, located at 1887 Pacific Ave. W.
The city is looking at taking nearby rundown tennis courts and turning them into a new basketball court or skatepark, Fielding said.
"These are not drive-by investments," he said. "We’re trying to invest good dollars in the neighbourhood and really make it a hub."