by Tina Kay Hughes
This year the ADA Advisory Committee partnered again with UAB and The Birmingham Museum of Art, under the direction of Toby Richards, to create even more beautiful panels to adorn the backside of Shields School. This is a project , started last year, that resulted in the 20 panels that are affixed to the top windows of Shields School, to serve as a covering to the old windows. This year’s project was a little different for the ADA Advisory Committee who spearheaded the event under the leadership of State Senator Linda Coleman. This year the project took place on the Greens of UAB’s Campus for the students’ annual “Into The Streets” project and Horizon School was invited to create 20 more art masterpieces that will accompany the other panels that span the top of Shields School. These panels can be seen from the freeway on I-20 going east bound from downtown on the right hand side as you approach the Tallapoosa exit.
According to the UAB Student Involvement page, lending a hand to the community to make a difference is nothing new for the students at UAB. Throughout the fall and spring semesters, the Leadership and Service Council host service days to connect UAB students with volunteer organizations in the Birmingham community. Into the Streets occurs in March and November, and it is a day of service in which students, faculty, and administrators from the UAB campus participate in a variety of community service projects in the Birmingham area on March 8, 2014. The students are given many choices to do community service in different places and with an array of organizations throughout the Birmingham area and approximately 150 students showed up on the Greens of UAB’s campus to help students from the Horizon School create art for a purpose. I asked one of the student site leaders (Rikita Patel) why she decided to participate in this particular project and she said, “This is my last year and I’ve done every single Into The Streets project since I was a freshman and now I am a senior, and I wanted to end the year right.” I also spoke with three young ladies from Alpha Gamma Delta who were taking a break and enjoying the beautiful day and they shared, “We have a community service project for our sorority. This is the first time they’ve had the murals on the Greens and we were really excited about that, because we usually have to drive somewhere. It also gives students the opportunity to serve even if you don’t have a car.”
There were people from the community who came out to help because they helped last year who advised me there were more students this year and lots of creativity. They were thrilled to have all facets of people from the community show up with such eagerness to help. Ellen Spencer from the community shared, “This is a project that I would like to see continue because it has and will grow. You can see the panels on the Shields School as you drive along the freeway and say I had a hand in creating that or my students helped create those panels.” I asked Leland Keller from the community what was different from 50 years ago and now who shared, “We were so excited to have Horizons School join us for the project, who worked alongside the UAB students. The most obvious thing is we have Black folks and white folks working together and a tremendous international community that is well represented here at UAB.” It seems this project has the potential to grow beyond our imagination that will allow the community and young people to come together to not only create lasting impressions on canvas, but impressions that will remain with us for a lifetime.
Tina Kay Hughes, ADA Advisory Council Chair