Palatine mom, children paint mural on park trail tunnel
Palatine resident Samira Alhosini never noticed the graffiti along the Palatine Trail's tunnel at Hicks Road until her children pointed it out to her during a walk in late March.
Jasmine Hryniewiecki, 10, and Joseph Hryniewiecki, 5, asked their mother whether the graffiti -- some of it obscene -- could be covered up with nicer art.
Now three months later, the underpass showcases two colorful murals painted by Alhosini and her children with the help of more than a dozen volunteers, including co-workers, friends and friends' children. The Home Depot in Palatine donated paint and supplies.
The murals depict a sunrise bike ride, representing new beginnings, and six eyes in various skin tones, representing diversity.
"The concept is that it doesn't matter the color of your skin or eyes or who you are -- we all see the same thing," Alhosini said.
The designs came after brainstorming with daughter Jasmine, who is passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement and has seen some Asian friends being bullied at school, Alhosini said.
Jasmine, who like her mother loves to draw, said she "really wanted to make a positive change in the community."
"I feel like art, in general, has been misused," she said. "People use it for negative messages. Many things use it to say bad things about other people, or to say things that are racist or sexist."
Palatine Park District officials praised the family's initiative.
"Without her (Alhosini's) desire, her artistic ability, and her family and friends support, this wouldn't have been possible," district spokesman JP McNamara said.
Park District Executive Director Mike Clark said the district is always open to ideas for enhancement or beautification.
"Unfortunately, graffiti and negative activity on public property is something that is common," Clark said. "We remove it as quickly as possible and work with the police department to request increased patrol. We encourage neighbors to continue keeping eyes and ears on the parks and report this kind of activity."
Alhosini, who works as a 3D animator for Hydro Inc. in Chicago, said she and the children spoke with a lot of people to get it done.
First, they brought a box of doughnuts to the nearby Palatine police station to ask about how the graffiti could be covered up. They were told to inquire at village hall. Village employees told them to contact the Palatine Park District, which has jurisdiction over the trail.
"We were sent around a bunch of times," Alhosini said. "Then we connected with Jim Holder, the superintendent of parks."
Once the district gave the thumbs-up to the project, Alhosini secured a donation of paint and supplies from The Home Depot in Palatine. The volunteers painted the murals -- hard work that included scraping off the old paint, she said -- over two Saturdays in June.
The experience was fun and gratifying, Alhosini said.
"It really encouraged the kids," she said. "They felt very connected with the community. It showed them that they can make a difference. Even if it's something really big, they can do it."