A Splash of Color: Birch Students Help Bring New Mural to Life

There is a colorful and vibrant new addition to the Washington Heights Education Center playground this month, and although the students can’t play on it, they can say they helped make it! 

The latest addition is a stunning mural that not only beautifies the playground surroundings but also symbolizes the creativity, inclusivity, and community at the Washington Heights Education Center. The mural was facilitated by Project Color Corps, a non-profit company that engages communities and professional designers in developing art projects where children learn, families connect, and people thrive. One of the most remarkable aspects of the mural is the inclusive approach in how it was made. Students were surveyed on their color choices and how they wanted the space to feel, the results of which helped determine how the mural would be planned out. 

“It was really exciting to see some of the feedback from the students,” said Head Muralist Amanda Bacha. “We took a lot of their primary words and incorporated them into the patterns of the design itself.” 

With the pattern designed, volunteers from Project Color Corps, corporate partner Lloyds Bank North America, members of the Birch Young Professionals Board, and staff and parents from the Washington Heights Education Center community joined to put it all together – but they weren’t alone! Washington Heights Education Center students lent their hands to help the project along and paint in some of the lines.  

“It feels great to be able to translate something from the students themselves and being able to work with them and let them see it come to life,” said Amanda. “Allowing it to be interactive for the students gives it that extra step that we strive for.”  

“It’s great to do something that the students will look at and enjoy,” said volunteer Emily Gallardo.  

Emily volunteered her day to help paint the mural, something she was happy to do considering her child would be admiring her work each day on the playground. Her three-year-old daughter started attending the Washington Heights Education Center this year initially facing issues in talking, she is now progressing and able to communicate more.  

“It always is surprising,” said Emily. “She’ll come home and start spouting out full phrases I have never heard before. It’s clear that they will advocate for your kids properly.” 

Along with Emily’s daughter, hundreds of students will pass the mural each day and enjoy their playground as it overlooks them. Artists involved with the project described the mural as something that isn’t just a visual improvement, but a celebration of art and creativity that the students can enjoy. 

“It’s playful and exciting and the colors are very warm and inviting and it adds a sense of wonder from the student’s perspective,” said Muralist Jesse Salinas. “Considering the incredible students they have here, this mural is more impactful because the appreciation for color and vibrancy will mean even more for the special qualities that these students exist with.” 

“When the students grow a little more, they can come back and say that they were part of this project and that can extend on for a lifetime,” said Amanda.