OSPREYS awarded nationwide grant for mural, pocket park in Ocean Springs

AARP has awarded a resident organization dedicated to pedestrian and cyclist safety with a Community Challenge Grant for a traffic calming ground mural and pocket park that will help improve safe passage to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, the Ocean Springs Community Center, and Ocean Springs Senior Center.

The Ocean Springs Pedestrians and Residents for Exercise and Youth Safety (OSPREYS) group was formed in 2020 to bring awareness to pedestrian and cyclist safety issues in Ocean Springs.  OSPREYS has found overwhelming support from citizens and city leaders.  In their first year, they have worked with the city to reduce high residential speed limits, hosted a bike safety awareness event and parade, received a grant to distribute bike helmets to Ocean Springs School District students and a grant to place bike racks at city parks.

OSPREY was chosen for this latest grant from AARP from more than 3,500 applicants from across the country.

OSPREYS’ mission is to improve the wellness and quality of life for Ocean Springs residents and visitors by making the city more walkable and cyclist friendly. OSPREYS partnered with the Walter Anderson Museum of Art to design and execute the ground mural that will be located on the 400th and 500th blocks of Washington Avenue.  The project will slow traffic while displaying beautiful artwork inspired by Walter Anderson’s signature designs.  The $20,000 grant from AARP also  will help fund the creation of a pocket park in an underused parking lot near City Hall.  The park will feature seating and shade structure that can be used for programming by the library, civic center, senior center and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

“The AARP Community Challenge Grant was a stretch goal for our young organization. After researching ways towns and cities were using ground murals to calm traffic, we knew Ocean Springs would be a perfect fit for such a mural given our storied history of art and vibrant community of local artists,” said board president Liz Elmore. “The Walter Anderson Museum of Art is the perfect partner to help execute these Anderson-inspired designs.  We are so appreciative that city, county, and state leaders agreed to support our grant submission.  We cannot thank AARP enough for this opportunity to make Ocean Springs safer and more beautiful.”

“Walter Anderson believed in the integration of art into all levels of social and civic life,” said Julian Rankin, Director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. “This project incorporates imagination and design into the very fabric of the land- and cityscape, in keeping with the Museum’s commitment to inspire creativity and lifelong curiosity beyond the institution’s walls.”

“AARP Mississippi is proud to see three organizations in our state receive these grants this year,” said AARP Mississippi State Director Kimberly L. Campbell, Esq. “We look forward to seeing how these grants will contribute to helping improve local communities.”

The Community Challenge initiative from AARP is unique because it relies on neighbors, friends, and families to assist with execution of projects.  Volunteers from the community will have an opportunity to make their mark on Ocean Springs by painting the mural or helping assist artist.  Coming together to achieve a common goal while strengthening bonds of community is central to the AARP mission.  Information about how to volunteer can be found on the OPSREYS Facebook page.

For more information, contact Liz Elmore at Liz@ospreysos.com.

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