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Summer art program adds murals at 2 local schools

three people paint a mural. the backdrop is a teal green shade and the three artists are painting clasped hands in varying skin tones all around the word "unity."
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Heartfelt Tidbits
Student interns from UC are working for Heartfelt Tidbits to create six murals in two Cincinnati Public schools.

When students return this fall to the Academy of World Languages (AWL) in Evanston and Rising Stars pre-school in Carthage, they'll be greeted by colorful new murals on walls throughout the schools.

The murals were created and are being painted by interns from the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) who are working with Heartfelt Tidbits, a local program that helps refugees and immigrants get on their feet.

"We work with kids every day and we wanted to design things that are going to speak to them on their level, so we used really bright colors; we did some positive affirmations in the bathroom; and really simple shapes," says Hannah Spitzer, a rising fourth year student majoring in fine arts who plans to become a teacher.

large mural of a sun over green field and water with artistic trees, flowers, butterflies
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Heartfelt Tidbits

She adds the AWL mascot is a dragon, so a lot of the designs are based on that, too.

AWL, a CPS magnet school, has a student population with more than 50% English learners comprised of refugees and immigrants from more than 35 countries.

phrases of affirmation on the bathroom wall
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Heartfelt Tidbits
The artists painted phrases of affirmation on the bathroom walls.

“I wanted to create something that the kids could see themselves in when people walk into school," Spitzer says. "It's super important to let them know that they're welcome and that they see themselves in the art around the school and in the classroom and give them the confidence they need to take on their day. Life is hard, and talking to some of these families has just been really eye opening to how good we have it here in America."

Besides the art, Heartfelt Tidbits says the interns also provide social and academic enrichment activities with students at both schools. Spitzer has interned teaching art at Rising Stars Carthage, too. There she got to work with 10-15 students per class, providing art programs not regularly provided, she says.

people paint a navy wall surrounding a doorway
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Heartfelt Tidbits

She wants people to know art is important, even though it's often one of the first subjects — along with music and other arts programs — when budgets get tight.

"I think it's so important to get art out there into the community. Not only is it a creative outlet for us, but for the kids to be able to see that there is a place in the world for art because it's kind of on the decline in schools. ... I just think it's super important to show the community that it can be an amazing thing (and) it can be very healing for kids."

dragons flank a door
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Heartfelt Tidbits
The AWL mascot is the dragon.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.