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For a group of students at Ross Elementary School in Lancaster City, the daily commute to school is now a walk of fame, thanks to a recent art project organized by Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine.
In early February, demolition began at the former site of the Lancaster Family YMCA, where vacant buildings will be taken down and removed, and a temporary green space created in their place.
Surrounding the construction site along Queen and Prince Streets is a chain-link fence wrapped in artwork created by more than 250 students from the nearby school. Additional panels are posted on Frederick Street.
In partnership with RGS Associates and Wohlsen Construction, LG Health Wellness educators, Sue Lackmann and Brenda Buescher, approached Ross Elementary School principal Camille Hopkins, and art teacher, Emily Betancourt to pitch the idea of having each grade represent a different health-related topic.
“The artwork is a fun way to promote community health,” said Buescher. “Once the green space is complete, this will be a safe, beautiful public space that brings people together and encourages walking in the neighborhood.”

Demolition of the building will be completed in March and construction on the green space will begin in April.

“With demolition starting in the winter, it will be a few weeks before we can begin landscaping. The art project is a way to give folks in the neighborhood something nicer to look at, and get people excited about what’s coming,” said Sarah B. Kneller, CHC, PE, Senior Project Manager for Wohlsen Construction, the firm that is responsible for the site work.

The artwork reflects health topics that students learn about in school. The kindergartners chose fruits for their theme, and the first graders, vegetables. Second graders focused on healthy habits like exercising, bathing, and brushing their teeth. The third graders drew themselves doing activities they are good at, like dancing or riding a bike. The fourth grade students decided on tobacco- and drug-free living as their theme, and the fifth graders highlighted healthy physical activities like hiking.
“I brainstormed with my students about healthy habits and activities, and we came up with a different theme for each grade level to draw. After that I just set them free with crayons, markers and colored pencils, and they came up with their own ideas,” said Betancourt.
The artwork wrapping will remain on the fence until demolition is complete.

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