Sixteen-year-old Jose Jimenez is painting with an ulterior motive: He wants people who walk or drive by Ramey Market to enjoy his artwork and then — wait for it— crave a carrot.
Actually, any healthy food will do. Jimenez is among about 15 Dunbar High School art students working on a mural at the store in Fort Worth’s Stop Six neighborhood. The mural will depict the market and the Stop Six community, along with pineapples, carrots and apples, among other images.
The students, part of Devyn Gaudet’s advanced art class, were enlisted for a Blue Zones Project that aims to help fight obesity and diabetes while reinventing neighborhoods known as food deserts — urban areas in which residents can’t find affordable healthy food.
“I think it is something special,” Jimenez said of the mural. “Everybody will look at it and see something good and how they are supposed to have healthy habits.”
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Market manager Sami Moulegata said he is committed to the project and hopes to have more health-food offerings to sell in the future.
“If they change their habits, there will be many benefits,” he said. “I’m trying to change the inside.”
The mural, which will be presented to the community Dec. 10, is a gift to Stop Six residents. The students designed a thumbnail of the mural and worked with muralist John Ortega to get the artwork from paper to mortar. They painted from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. most days this week.
“This is where the community is embracing their corner store,” said Brandy O’Quinn, public affairs manager for the Blue Zones Project Fort Worth.
Gaudet said the experience has allowed the students to take their class lessons to the streets. They also learned what it is like to be part of a community campaign while having a stake in the outcome.
“This is not only a building in their community, it is one they frequent quite often,” Gaudet said.
Other project partners are the Historic Stop Six Initiative, the Fort Worth Police Department, a Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration/Plan4Health grant, the Black Firefighters Association, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth.
Dunbar Principal SaJade Miller said the mural is a collective project that will have a strong impact on the community while leaving a student legacy.
“They are going to be very protective of this,” Miller said.