Senior residents now have beautiful murals to look at while exercising at The Gardens at Felician Village, thanks in large part to the Silver Lake College United Way.
Led by Erin LaBonte, an Assistant Professor of Art and a Student United Way advisor, nearly a dozen people took part in the week-long project, which concluded Friday.
The fitness room walls, which previously were bare, now feature a three-walled water scene, complete with a lighthouse, sailboat, birds, shining sun and the S.S. Badger car ferry. Another portion of the room features a green landscape with a tree and birds.
“I’m amazed at what we were able to do here together,” said Jared Koch, one of the SLC students who helped paint the mural. “Everyone brought a unique element and visual flavor that comes together in a beautiful way. Through serving and giving, I’ve discovered talents I never knew I had.”
Other SLC students who took part were: Cassie Hebert, Jessica Martinez, Anna Hall, Thao King and Sophia Chin. In addition, the follow people helped with the project: Ashley Bender, Student United Way advisor; Tommy Nelson, SLC staff member and Student United Way advisor; Bob Greene, Felician Village resident; and parent Jason Koch.
“I had a fun time working with others on this project,” King said. “I’m glad to have this opportunity to serve my community.”
Added Martinez: “This was my first time doing a mural painting, and it was a fun experience. Each person contributed their own unique style of painting, which at the end worked in unison.”
Cory Neuser, a United Way employee, served as Volunteer Coordinator at The Gardens from 2013 to 2014. She and Roselle Holschbach, Independent Living Manager for The Gardens, discussed the idea of a mural in the fitness room before Neuser changed jobs. Neuser followed up by contacting the Silver Lake College Art Department. LaBonte brought the proposed mural to the newly formed Student United Way on campus.
During SLC’s fall break in October, LaBonte and three students visited the fitness room and residents shared their ideas on what they wanted to see in the mural. Students worked on sketches independently, and LaBonte collaged the mural ideas to create a single image.
Hallman Lindsay donated the paint for the mural, which students helped paint during their first week of winter break.
“It was fabulous for our residents to be able to walk through and see the progress on a daily basis. They absolutely loved it,” Holschbach said.
The mural helps provide residents with visual stimulation, promoting mental wellness and health. Visually stimulating experiences, along with other sensory experiences, benefit mental wellness by improving and maintaining good memory.
LaBonte said that creating art in public spaces, indoors and outdoors, can become an event.
“It is important to integrate art into peoples’ lives,” she said. “While painting, we had a lot of spectators and a lot of really positive feedback. It was inspiring that the student feedback and the Felician Village residents’ feedback was all so positive and energetic. One student showed up for painting in the morning and said, ‘I’m excited.’”