For the past year, the 4-H/Middle Earth Student Ambassadors for Community Health (SACH) team shaped plans to create positive change in Bound Brook, New Jersey through a park revitalization and beautification project. One of the first steps involved the youth petitioning to rename the park “Mariposa Park” (Spanish for “butterfly”) to symbolize the transformation of the park from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.
SACH partnered with a newly formed Community Garden Committee to revive the neglected park that had become an unused space in the neighborhood. By adding art, murals, crosswalks, a free library with books in English and Spanish, landscaping, picnic tables, grilling space, and an educational seating area, students believe the area will thrive again.
By adding art, murals, crosswalks, a free library with books in English and Spanish, landscaping, picnic tables, grilling space, and an educational seating area, students believe the area will thrive again.
As work began this summer, a local resident asked the team, “Why are you choosing this park? Nobody cares about this place.” For many years it seemed no one was willing to devote time or resources to the neighborhood. The youth hope these changes will show how fellow residents and local government officials alike value our community.
To encourage the community’s return to the park, the team created a mile-long Storybook Trail that spans 12 installations in locations from downtown Bound Brook to Mariposa Park. The story was written and illustrated by the Student Ambassadors and highlights the park’s transformation. In each location, a podium will display a page of the story in both English and Spanish.
In addition, the students invited local artists to design butterfly sculptures, and enlisted local businesses to sponsor these art installations. The team hosted a live painting event featuring the artists at the Bound Brook Food Truck Festival in July. Each butterfly painted at the event has been paired with a Storybook Trail podium to promote healthy movement and the joy of reading.
The 4-H/Middle Earth Student Ambassadors for Community Health project came to an exciting end. In August, the youth team unveiled Mariposa Park during a grand re-opening celebration with food, crafts, face painting, balloon tying, and live monarch butterflies.
The grand re-opening concluded with an unveiling of the completed butterfly sculptures. Mariposa Park received a warm welcome from the local community as nearly 100 neighbors, including Bound Brook Mayor Robert Fazen and members of the town council, joined SACH for the event. Somerset County Freeholder Brian Gallagher also attended and shared words of appreciation with the youth team when he declared their work magical for the community.
SACH hopes that the revitalized park will be used for educational purposes. The team held an inaugural class there that included rock painting and outdoor yoga for neighborhood children.
Connect with the Student Ambassadors for Community Health alumni and follow the newest team’s progress on Twitter. Track all of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams through the hashtag #NJLeaders2030.