Young Environmentalists Beautify Richmond Greenspaces

“Art gives children chances to make decisions, and to learn from the experience of making choices about their art work.” Penn State University, “Art–an opportunity to develop children’s skills,” 2023

Art is an important educational tool that helps students develop lifelong skills. Art increases cognitive ability, encourages creativity and helps students develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Students can use art as a tool to help them understand complex topics, and to connect with peers and with their community.

KIDS for the BAY recently launched a new program, The Richmond Parks and Watershed Rangers Program, to help students create public art installations to brighten parks and greenspaces in their community. This exciting new program gives students opportunities to adopt, explore, clean up and beautify parks and greenspaces, and to engage with their local communities. Three schools in the Iron Triangle neighborhood in Richmond are currently partnering in this special program. Peres K-8 School has adopted a section of the San Francisco Bay Trail. Grant Elementary has adopted Lucas Park and Lincoln Elementary has adopted Heart of Richmond Park. Students from Peres designed beautiful stone pavers, now installed beside the Bay Trail near their school. Grant students designed brightly colored tiles and pavers, now installed at Lucas Park. Lincoln Elementary students beautified the green space/park on the corner of Harbour Way and Macdonald Avenue with their colorful tiles that are now covering the park gazebo.

Pictured: KIDS for the BAY Educators Yvette Diaz Samayoa, Grace Bedecarre, and Nicole Garcia worked with Richmond Main Street Executive Director, Andrea Portillo-Knowles, to install Lincoln Elementary student-created tiles in the Heart of Richmond Park.

The art installation projects are part of the Clean California Grant awarded to the City of Richmond in partnership with KIDS for the BAY (KftB) and other community partners. Each art installation was approved by the City Art Council and installed with the help of the Parks and Landscaping department. Richmond Main Street is also a key partner in this project, helping KftB and Lincoln Elementary School develop and install the art installation for the Heart of Richmond Park.

The students at Peres K-8 School were thrilled to design their pavers. KftB Educator, Yvette Diaz Samayoa, demonstrated how to use paint, brushes and palettes. Students learned about color mixing and created their own paints using the primary colors provided. This was helpful for students Shiloh and Micaela, who mixed paints until they created the exact sand color they needed. Miguel and his partner Tony loved their paver so much! They were happy to know that they would be able to see it whenever they were walking to school by the Bay Trail. The pavers were installed in a rectangle, surrounded by white marble rocks and a wooden fence to ensure passersby would stop to admire the artwork. In the next few months, native plants and shrubs will be planted in the area to complete the art garden.

Lincoln Elementary students’ tiles were added onto the gazebo at the Heart of Richmond park. During the installation, passersby admired the beauty of the tiles and shared their excitement for the project. The KftB staff is thrilled to see this art installation become a reality and can’t wait for Lincoln students and families to visit their local park and see their artwork on display. 

Grant Elementary students designed pavers and tiles depicting landscapes, plants and animals. Some students chose to display what they learned about their local watershed in their KftB lessons. The tiles were installed on a wall in Lucas Park. KftB staff painted some of the bricks in bright primary colors to bring an extra pop to the tiles and the wall, and laid the groundwork for additional tiles which will be created by this year’s fifth grade class. Student-created pavers were installed near the playground in Lucas Park, accompanied by a tree planted by Richmond Main Street in celebration of Arbor Day.   

“Students had lots of fun bringing out their creativity to design their art pieces with
KIDS for the BAY.”

Mx. Encarnacion, Fifth Grade Teacher, Grant Elementary School, Richmond

The art installation projects are helping Richmond school students realize their capabilities as artists and environmentalists, and encouraging them to employ their newfound artistic skills to inspire deeper connections with local parks and greenspaces in their communities. “The students were able to express what they learned through art,” shared teacher Ms. Jaimes, from Peres K-8 School. “I want my tile to show one of the Five Rs. Maybe I will focus on Reusing,” said Daniel as he drafted his design before grabbing paint and paint brushes to complete his paver. Christian shared, “Our tiles all fit together to show fish swimming in the ocean. This tile shows pollution and how it hurts the fish and other animals.” Felicia added, “I am going to show my little brother my tile. Maybe he will make a tile when he is in fifth grade too!”

KIDS for the BAY are so excited for all our young artists and their families to visit their art installations and witness firsthand how their artwork is improving their community, and inspiring others to protect and care for their local environment! 

KIDS for the BAY