When students come back to the Community School 300 campus next week they'll be greeted by some new artwork, changes that are part of a project to transform the space for the community. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
A newly painted mural is a welcome addition to Community School 300.
"It's going to create a lot of value to our school community, as well as the community at large," said Venessa Singleton, principal of Community School 3000.
That's because it's more than a school to the community. It's a home, a hub, a place where everyone gathers, and making it beautiful on the outside reflects what happens inside.
"Book club, through Zumba night, through family night, where we celebrate and have board game activities for the children and parents to participate in. We have cooking classes for our children," Singleton said. "We do sports in the morning activities for our young men. We do social emotional impact groups for our young ladies."
This summer, young artists in the nonprofit Groundswell's Summer Leadership Institute took input from neighborhood residents, came up with a theme and painted the mural.
Groundswell paints these in underserved areas with a goal of using art as a tool for social change.
"These murals inspire conversation. They inspire people to look deeply into the subject and do their own research," said Patrick Dougher, program director at Groundswell.
The mural is part of a larger improvement project that will transform the playground.
Funding for the project also went to the Trust for Public Land, another nonprofit that lets the help with community design. In this case, the group is turning a 40,000-square-foot barren space into a playground with a turf field, track, benches, basketball hoops, an outdoor classroom, gazebo and rain garden.
"It's needy of open space to play," said Joan Keener, program manager for Trust for Public Land. "There's not a lot of places that have any amenities around here. There's a pool, but that's not something the kids get to use during their day or during school year."
The partnering nonprofits take their cue from the community because they say the people who live here know best what they need and, in the end, have a sense of ownership and pride in their projects.
"It is possible for change to happen if everyone works together," said one participant.
Like this group, who gave up their summer to brighten this neighborhood.