Norwell Life Skills students create large-scale community basketball court mural
June 7, 2018
PALMERSTON, Ontario – Students at Norwell District Secondary School have completed an impressive project – designing and painting one of the largest painted basketball court murals in Canada.
The project was spearheaded by Norwell art teacher and basketball coach Mallory Tolcher and School Community Transition Program (also known as the Life Skills Program) teacher Lindsay Clements.
The inspiration for the project came from a few different sources. It started as a project that would add regulation lines to the town court, something that Tolcher knew there was a need for. She learned about Project Backboard, a non-profit group that transforms public basketball courts into works of art. With that inspiration, the idea for the Norwell project grew.
The class decided to paint a large-scale mural on the public court near the school. After getting permission from the Town of Minto to proceed, it was decided that the design would incorporate elements that honour parts of Palmerston’s history. After many history lessons, a visit to the Palmerston Railway Heritage Museum, and speaking with people in the community, the students came up with a design.
Design elements include the Palmerston water tower, train tracks, the historic Railway Pedestrian Bridge, which stands next to the court in CNR Park, Palmerston’s old steam engine “Old 81” and images of two large hands coming together and children holding hands. The mural covers both the basketball court and adjacent road hockey pad.
For Clements and Tolcher, this project is also about having the students participate in something that had direct community involvement, something that the students could take on, complete and really take pride in.
In late May, the students started painting. Twenty-one students from the Life Skills Program were joined by 20 student mentors who helped with the painting. As the painting continued, other Norwell students would pop by and offer to help.
On June 6, students from the Life Skills Program and members of the junior and senior boys’ basketball teams christened the colourful court, the smell of fresh paint still in the air, with a fun game of pick-up.
The basketball court is used regularly by students and local youth. Tolcher said she’s noticed that since the mural was completed, even more kids are coming to the court to shoot around.
The project was made possible by the support of many local businesses including Home Hardware, Blessings to You and the Cultural Roundtable. So far, the response from the community has been extremely positive, adding a pop of colour to a vibrant park space in town.
The school will be hosting a community unveiling and BBQ on June 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.