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Painting with a purpose: using art to revitalize communities and encourage healthy living

New Murals aimed at bringing communities together
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A colorful new mural invites you to come BBQ at Kingston’s Stockham Park, while in Titusville’s Memorial Park a wall of color prompts you to think about having courage to chase your dreams.

The new murals are part of a pilot project to revitalize communities and encourage healthy living. It was spearheaded by UAB’s Live HealthSmart Alabama program, which works with local organizations and communities to help expand access to healthcare and healthy lifestyles in underserved neighborhoods of Birmingham and across the state.

Leaders with UAB’s Minitority Health and Health Disparities Research Center say the project is part of a plan to address Alabama’s high numbers of health concerns like chronic diseases and strokes.

“We know that if people can do things like eat healthier and take part in physical activity then those instances of chronic diseases will be lowered,” explains Director Community Engagement Tiffany Osborne. “Physical changes to the environment we know can create a sense of belonging and be more inviting to come to.”

Volunteers from UAB and the surrounding community teamed up with Blank Space Birmingham to paint the murals, and they hope to add more throughout the city.

“As we work to improve and build environment changes we know that there is a lot of blight and some of those things can’t be easily or quickly removed,” says Osborne. “This is a simple and quick, easy way to enhance aesthetics and make the area more beautiful and more inviting. The goal is to have more people come out and want to take advantage get out and exercise and enjoy all that the beautiful murals have brought to the community.”

Kimberly Speights grew up in Kingston, and she is now on staff with Live HealthSmart Alabama. She says the new murals are already making a difference.

“Its just so inviting it makes the kids want to come out and play when it was warmer we came out and did exercise in the park,” says Speights. “It means a whole lot to me. I grew up on 43rd Street North and to be able to come back home and help with some improvements and changes it just blesses my heart.”

Live HealthSmart Alabama just received additional funding for two years, which will allow them to expand programs like these into Jefferson County and across the state.

To learn more about their mission visit their website.

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