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The mural design workshop with Collaborate for Healthy Weight was on Wednesday and we now have a rough sketch of the mural lay-out!  Luckily Chris from Head Start (who’s proven to be a wonderful artist and great cartoonist) has agreed to help draw in figures once the design is finalized.  The story of the mural that we developed at the first session is, “The data say that economic status of families, cultural traditions and where you live play a part in the health of all children. We want to tell this story because the culture of the home and the community and of its organizations need to work together toward improving child health.” The mural will show a boy and a girl running down a road carrying suitcases that represent the things that they bring with them, including cultural heritage and their past experiences.  Along the road will be buildings that represent the many organizations and institutions in the community.  From a window in each building someone will be talking about how their institution helps to keep the kids healthy.  Clouds above the scene will show images and words that represent some of the challenges that the data show kids face as they try to stay healthy.

We had some growing pains as we experimented with new activities that we designed to introduce creative ways to present data.  We weren’t sure which techniques to share, and in the end it was hard to massage the data into some of the formats that we presented.  The data definitely lent itself better to some techniques than to others. I suppose that’s part of the learning for the group, that you have to figure out which technique will tell your story most effectively.

Some Head Start parents joined us just before the session. It was great to have their expertise and their perspective in the room as we designed a mural that will be targeted primarily at other parents.  I would have liked to have more time to catch them up on the process and give them the background that they needed to understand the day’s activities, but they did an admirable job of jumping right in.

We were lucky enough to have a few people from the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) attend the workshop.  You can see one of their photos from the design session at: (

In planning for the next design workshop we’ve been thinking about ways that collage might help to assuage some of the people’s worries about not being able to draw. I also think that collage could be a really nice way to have the whole group participate in designing the final image.  For the first two pilots I’ve stood at the front of the room with a big piece of paper and drawn as people share ideas about what to include from the collaborative drawings and build-it exercises.  It might be much more fun and engaging to take the drawings, rip out pieces that we like and actually arrange them on a piece of paper together. I’ll have to think about exactly how that would work.

We’re still thinking about all of the different ways that the data can make its way into the final mural design and which of these we’ll consider success.  Is it enough to have participants feel more comfortable looking at data?  Is it enough to have the data inform the story of the image?  Does the data have to remain visible in the final image?  Does the image itself have to be able to be “read” as the data would initially have been read?  As we think about data literacy we also have to think about literacy in terms of how well the mural’s audiences can read words and stories. If we’re turning numbers and words into pictures are we making them understandable to a wider audience?