As you open the door of the new Head Start office in Somerville the first thing you see is a colorful data mural! The wall shows two children biking and running down a street. Along the road are homes, a school, a store, a Head Start building, a health center, a library, a park and a church. In front of each building is a person (designed by the fabulous Chris Hosman) talking to children and their families about what they do to keep kids healthy. The sun shines above the street, but in the sky are also clouds with phrases that summarize some of the data that we looked at together as we designed the mural. The clouds represent four of the barriers to healthy living; expensive food and housing, not enough money, too little time, and not enough play.
The mural is intended to be a trigger for important conversations with families who come into the office about healthy eating and physical activity, and about the many resources that the city offers. It’s already working! As people came in during the painting days we had great conversations about what the mural shows and how it relates to real life.
As we painted we had help from kids, parents, Head Start staff, volunteers from Bunker Hill Community College, members of the Collaborate for Healthy Weight initiative, and generous friends.
It’s interesting to see how completely the data transformed into an approachable scene. As we began to transfer the image onto the wall a woman who works in the office was relieved to see that we weren’t “putting a bunch of charts on the wall”. Hearing this reinforced what all of the family advocates had told us, that for this location and this audience the message and images had to be primary, with numbers and words taking a back seat.
Here is the almost-complete mural. The only work left is to fill in a few of Chris’s great figures, color the flags that trail behind the boy’s bicycle, and gather some feedback from folks about the process and the product.