Mural brings respect to park 

When Nina Haletky took a walk around Daly City’s parks, she noticed a lot of graffiti. So the John F. Kennedy Elementary School student teacher decided to do something about it. She partnered with Ed Lopez and his students in the environmental education class at Thornton High School and AmeriCorps to paint a 5-foot wall near the playground of Hillside Park in southeastern Daly City.

“The idea is to show a clean community and inspire others to keep the community clean,” she said. “It’s also a sort of pride and responsibility for community places.”

The mural, Haletky said, will be of a park scene in a park. It will feature people enjoying the park and feature inspiring words such as “respect” and “friendship.” The words will also be written in the different languages found in Daly City, including Tagalog and Spanish.

Haletky said she came up with the idea to paint a mural as a member of AmeriCorps, which requires participants to complete community service projects. But, Haletky said, this project became more.

“I asked the students to brainstorm about the community and some of the issues,” she said. “They talked a lot about tagging and graffiti on people’s garages, walls and in parks. I spoke with some parents and they agreed the parks are not as wonderful as they could be.”

Daly City does respond to graffiti complaints with volunteers offering to cover walls, benches, poles and other areas tagged with offensive materials when reported.

Haletky said the high school students will draw out the scenes of the park mural and her third-graders will help paint to give her students a sense of ownership.

“So they really feel it’s their community,” she said.

Painting the mural was scheduled for earlier this month, but rains have delayed the efforts. But JFK Elementary Principal Carolyn Casey is confident it will be completed before the end of the school year in June.

“Our biggest problem is the weather,” she said. “It’s not every day you see a mural or an effort like this.”

Casey said JFK has a number of murals around its school campus, but this is the first off campus.

Calling it the “tip of the iceberg,” Casey said the students will also help clean the park of trash and add new benches and picnic areas.

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Doug Graham

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