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Meldrum Park Mural Dedicated To Students

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After more than two years of planning, drawing, and painting, one Sioux Falls park is a lot more colorful. Wednesday evening city leaders gathered to dedicate the 150 foot long mural at Meldrum Park to the students who made it all happen.

The mural at Meldrum Park represents a community that residents call the 'melting pot of the plains.' And hundreds of those residents came out to celebrate an idea that started in a classroom at Whittier Middle School, and was finished on this wall for everyone to see.

For 14-year-old Kaleb Wika, Wednesday meant his several months of work on this now colorful wall is finished. And now every time he looks at it, he gets a sense of pride, knowing that he made his community that much brighter.

“That I drew and created, I just thought it would be cool if they had one in there, and I am very excited about it,” said Wika.

A plane is what Wika chose to represent the part his family plays in the diverse Whittier community. But for 11-year-old Amany Arshin, who immigrated to Sioux Falls from Sudan seven years ago, her attribute to the mural, is much different.

“To me it means that hands should be together, they should always be touching and never be apart,” Arshin said.
And Arshin said this mural as a whole represents exactly what she painted.

“If it was one hand, no one could do it by themselves, but there were millions of hands, and everybody was helping each other,” said Arshin.

Gigi Rieder, President of the Whittier Neighborhood Association said she hopes all those hands keep the mural intact. She said before the wall was painted it was always full of graffiti, but now she hopes that will change.     
“We found through research that once you start putting art on the walls, that people will stop graffiting,” said Rieder. “And with getting the neighborhood kids involved, they are taking ownership in it too.”

And as far as Wika is concerned, all the hard work will outlast anything.

“It feels good to know that it’s going to be here for a while,” Wika said.

The Whittier Neighborhood Association is hoping to raise enough money to get lights for the new mural to keep it from being graffitied at night. They have a fund set up at Wells Fargo under ‘The Arts Council Mural Lighting Fund.’
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