City NY celebrate MLK Day by painting Bronx murals

Over 600 volunteers joined former NFL player Chris Canty, former NBA player Felipe Lopez and others from various sponsors to paint vibrant murals throughout the halls of a Mott Haven school.

A group of dedicated volunteers from NBC, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Santander Bank and City Year NY paid P.S. 43 in Mott Haven a visit on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to give back to the community.

“We painted multiple murals on five levels of the school to brighten up and inspire the students and faculty there,” City Year NY executive director Laura Hamm said.

City Year NY is an educational organization that assigns Americorp workers to do one on one mentoring in math and science as well as run after school programs for underserved communities.

“We have 200 members in 18 schools and 8 to 12 in each individual school,” Hamm said.

According to Hamm, “Schools partnering with City Year – as compared with similar schools without City Year – are two times more likely to improve on state English assessments and up to three times more likely to improve proficiency rates in math.”

Hamm wanted to thank all the City Year NY alumni that participated in the event as well as the event’s sponsors: K2 Intelligence, T-Mobile, Starbucks and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

She sees these events as a way to recruiting for City Year NY. Anyone from 18 to 25 with a high school diploma is encouraged to join.

“We are always recruiting for the following year,” Hamm said.

Volunteers were split in designated groups to work on individual segments of murals. Paintings ranging from inspirational Bronx flavored phrases to portraits of Barack Obama and Dr. King Jr. himself now have a presence in the stairwells, along hallways and rooms in the school.

The school itself, P.S. 53, the Jonas Bronck School, is a K3 to 5 school with about 500 students.

As for the impact of the murals on P.S. 43 students, Bronx Times spoke to Dr. Delucchi, principal of the school and several teachers.

“There was an amazing energy when the students walked in today,” Dr. Delucchi said. “They were amazed with the transformation, it’s really triggering the children’s imagination looking at the historical figures.”

P.S 43’s speech language services teacher, Daebriah Wint, seconded the importance of having these historical figures for students to look up and be inspired from.

“It’s such a great way to showcase students the work and a great way to come into Black History Month,” Wint said.

Wint mentioned students find it comforting to look up to these inspirational characters in history that reflect how they look themselves.

One long-standing faculty member, special education teacher for 20 years Jessica Rivera, said she loved the mural work to the entrance of the school and all the Bronx flavor incorporated into the art.

“A lot of murals exhibit Bronx pride like the one of #4 train, the graffiti with ‘Boogie Down Bronx’, and the school’s pledge which the kids recite everyday,” Rivera said.

She highlighted one mural piece she finds exceptionally special for the students at P.S. 43 which states, “This is where our journey begins,” that encourages learning for years to come.

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