Promoting positivity through paint

by Town Reminder

Youth Commission creates mural at Beachgrounds

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – The Youth Commission plans to focus on the positives – with paint.
This week, the group received approval from the Recreation Commission and the Selectboard to create a mural on the restroom building at the Beachgrounds park. Themed “Above the Influence,” the Youth Commission’s mural will depict various scenarios in which youths rise above negativity – be it gossip, racism, peer pressure drugs or bullying.
“We hope the mural will provide a conversation piece,” said Youth Commission Director Adam Roberts.
Working in conjunction with the South Hadley High School Peer Leaders, the SPIFFY Coalition of Easthampton and the Recreation Commission, the Youth Commission has hired a muralist – Heather Berlin of Hadley – to bring their ideas to fruition.
Berlin will put into paint the message the Youth Commission wants to convey. She will create a paint-by-number type of layout which will allow the Youth Commission and any interested youths to assist in the painting of the mural.
Selectboard Member Frank DeToma expressed apprehension about the content of the mural. “I’m a little concerned about what this would look like,” he said.
Roberts assured DeToma there would not be anything controversial. Symbols the design team are interested in adding are trees and bridges, he said. Roberts promised sketches of the mural would be sent to the Selectboard for their review.
Recreation Director Andrew Rogers said he too had reservations when the idea was initially presented to him, specifically about tagging. But, he said, “It sounds like they’ve got a really good plan. We’re hoping it will add to the park and make it look nice.”
Products like “Graffiti Gone” and special sealants to prime the wall before painting have been researched by Roberts and the design team to prevent destruction of the mural by taggers.
“I think the more youths who take ownership of the piece will do a good job of policing it,” said Roberts.
This is not the first mural to ever be painted at the Beachgrounds. Ten years ago, a mural was painted on a door of the white restroom facility, which was then painted over when the building and park were renovated.
The Youth Commission will be responsible for the costs of the painting project and is receiving assistance from SPIFFY.
Tentatively, a painting day has been scheduled for June 10. The mural would require an additional day of painting. Roberts hopes to unveil the mural on the day the spray park at the Beachgrounds will be open to the public- typically the last day of school. This day would be Thursday, June 21.
Interested youths and residents are more than welcome to attend the painting days as well as give input as to what they think would work with the “Above the Influence” theme. Email Roberts at aroberts@southhadleyma.gov or call 538-5017 ext. 140 for more information.

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