The Copperfield-Mahogany Community Association (CMCA) had been receiving concerns from residents about safety and congestion around the community’s schools during drop off and pick up times. In May 2017, the CMCA began working on the idea of creating art within the community, painted in strategic areas to encourage more active travel within the community, with a focus on getting more kids walking to and from school. By encouraging children to walk to school and also illuminating legal parking areas within a short walking distance of the schools within the community for parents to park and walk, the goal became to reduce the number of cars in the immediate school area during the peak times at drop off and pick up.
After being awarded an Alberta Traffic Safety Fund Grant in September 2018, the CMCA, working with the City of Calgary and many other sponsors including Sherwin Williams Paint and Young Rembrandts, worked to create Paint the Pavement, a day long event which finally occurred in August 2019, after many weather delays. Sidewalk sized art pieces, adapted from winners’ art submissions taken from a school wide art contest, were then painted onto the sidewalks with the help of over a hundred volunteers.
The choice to paint on the sidewalks, versus the road, allowed children to engage with the art while walking to school, with areas to hop and jump throughout the paintings and make their journey to and from school more fun and active.
Highlighting safety while commuting to and from school was also a major component of the project, so in July 2019, the CMCA invited the children of our communities to come to the community centre to pick up a free bike helmet. We asked for suggestions on how to make their children’s commute to school safer and heard some valuable feedback from the community. The helmets that were left over have been distributed to kids in our neighbourhood over the summer to encourage the use of helmets while biking in the community.
Another component of the project involved identifying additional safe routes to school and using the City of Calgary’s LOOK stencil, LOOK was painted at crosswalks and sidewalks at more than 20 locations throughout the community to remind pedestrians to look before safely crossing the street.
The completed Paint the Pavement site is also the meeting point for a Walking School Bus program, run by community volunteers, starting in May 2019, which meets weekly to walk together to and from St. Isabella School, to get exercise, make new friends and help to cut down on the number of cars in the school area, making it safer for pedestrians.
Once the second half of Paint the Pavement is finished, hopefully in spring 2020, the painted art will connect one side of the community to the other, encompassing both community schools and reducing vehicle traffic at peak times by encouraging active travel along the sidewalks filled with vibrant child art.