Rosa Parks Museum's "wishes" project puts students' hopes for community improvement on display

Posted: Monday , 13 January 2014

MONTGOMERY - An exhibit on display this month at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum collects wishes for positive social change from Montgomery area students inspired by the life and legacy of Rosa Parks.

In August 2012, to celebrate the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks and honor her lifelong commitment to making positive social change, the Rosa Parks Museum launched the "100 Wishes for Rosa Parks" project with the aim of collecting wishes from local students looking for change in their own communities. Since then, the museum has received more than 3000 wishes, not only from students in the Montgomery area, but around the world, all outlining the various ways in which students’ would like to see their communities and their world improved in their lifetimes.

Through a series of graphic design workshops held with area high school and college students, the Museum has turned these "wishes" into art in the form of a series of posters, 100 of which are on display in the Rosa Parks Museum exhibit hall through Jan. 31.

The posters include a number of ideas from local students for how their communities could be improved, from better parks, libraries and schools, to an end to crime and violence.

"Positive social engagement in public space is integral to continued civic health," said Daniel Neil, curator of the Rosa Parks Museum. "Communities suffer when public space is perceived by citizens to be uninspiring, limiting, or dangerous. By asking the youngest members of a community to visualize positive solutions for public spaces in need of change, designers, policy makers and funding agencies are better informed to priori¬tize their responses to their communities."

Neil said the ideas shared by the students will be passed on to city officials and policy makers, and the entire exhibit will travel to additional venues throughout 2014 and 2015. The exhibit also includes data on the demographics of the students who participated, maps of the schools and neighborhoods involved, and graphs showing the themes of the wishes that students shared.

Georgette Norman, director of the Rosa Parks Museum, said the wishes project was designed to give voice to young people who want to see communities changed for the better.

"Children are our future and our present and it is time we start to take their voices seriously," Norman said. "We must listen carefully to what they have to say and give them every opportunity to speak." The exhibit hall at the Rosa Parks Museum is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information on this exhibit or other upcoming events, contact curator Daniel Neil at (334) 241-8701.