Project was part of Interfaith Outreach’s Summer Leaders Camp
By Kristen Miller
A group of rising sixth and seventh graders in the Wayzata School District defined what community means to them through mural on display through September at Plymouth City Hall.
The students were part of Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners’ Summer Leaders Camp, an eight-week summer camp for kids grades K-6.
The program is part of the organization’s Neighborhood Program and provides summer camp opportunities to children in identified neighborhoods throughout the IOCP community.
The camps offer “leadership opportunities as well as productive, joyful learning experiences that prevent summer slide,” said Deb Sakry Lande of Interfaith Outreach. Summer slide is defined as the academic loss that young people experience over the course of summer break from school.
The group of 20 students worked alongside team members of Learning Dreams, a project based in the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work. Together, they began the process of creating the mural by sharing things about themselves through self-portraits and journals under the theme “I Matter, You Matter.”
Children also wrote a poem describing themselves and where they came from, titled “I Am.”
The students also worked as a group to explore their community and what community means to them, as well as what they value in community and what things make a community stronger.
The mural includes the “community” as its centerpiece with each letter representing a different element of a community. For example, “C” represents nature and parks, “M” illustrates people working together and helping each other.
The hope of the project was to develop the child’s social and emotional skills, build self-esteem, develop a sense of gratitude and giving back to his or her community, explained Becca Weber, Neighborhood Program coordinator and camp manager at Interfaith Outreach.
“I was just really proud of the kids,” Weber said. “It’s amazing to see how much they grow and develop self-esteem as they work on projects like this together.”
Upon completion, the 15-by-8-foot community-themed mural was unveiled Aug. 28 at city hall, where it will be displayed in the lobby through September. It will then be displayed in Shannon Hall at Interfaith Outreach in Plymouth.
“The city is proud to display the mural and is grateful that IOCP allowed us to showcase the artwork of the summer campers,” said Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik. “It’s gratifying to see what community means to students.”
One of Slavik’s favorite images on the mural is of two people helping one another by carrying a ladder.
“It’s probably not the image that would come to mind when you think of helping someone, but I think it’s neat that the artist was able to incorporate the student’s actual vision of helping so that we see it through their eyes,” Slavik said.
a214nwCommunity2: Summer Leaders Camp members Destiney Martinez and Richard Tumbo stand with Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein and Mayor Kelli Slavik in front of the completed mural, now on display at city hall. The students also read their poems entitled “I Am.” (Photo courtesy of the City of Plymouth)
a214nwCommunity3: Students work on the mural during the Summer Leaders Camp through Interfaith Outreach. (Submitted photo)
a214nwCommunity: Students collaborated to define what community means to them in developing this mural, now on display at Plymouth City Hall through September. After that, the mural will be displayed at Interfaith Outreach in Plymouth. (Submitted photo)