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March 2002

Kids Make World Cup Mural, and Lots of Friends Too

Have you ever painted a picture with 69 friends? That's what 70 elementary and middle school students from 9 of the 32 countries competing in the soccer World Cup finals this year did last month when they painted their hopes and dreams for the success of the event onto a huge mural. This 4-meter-high and 15-meter-long painting was unveiled at Tanmachi Park in Yokohama on February 24 as the young artists looked on.

Fifty-three Japanese kids, including those from Yokohama, and 17 from countries like Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Mexico, and the United States took part in making the mural.

On the first day of the project the students listened to a talk by Japanese artist Teiko Nishimori. Afterwards the kids got together to discuss their ideas and then made sketches on paper that fit the theme: friendship between people, animals, and plants and the desire for peace on earth.

On the second day three of the works that best expressed the theme were chosen, and the students then used chalk to make a rough draft around the three drawings on 34 pieces of plywood. They also later added some color.

On day three the students pooled their creativity and coordinated their efforts. With help from Ms. Nishimori they created a colorfully balanced and well-arranged work of art.

While working on the mural, the kids became good friends with each other. Japanese sixth grader Yuki Tanabe became pals with a student from Mexico. Together they painted a famous Mexican ruin on the top right corner. A soccer player himself, Yuki said, "It was a little difficult to keep the colors from running together, but apart that, it was a blast."

When the fourth and last day came they worked on perfecting every detail. To make sure it would survive the wind and rain they put on at least three coats of paint. It was so big they had to go up to the second floor of the gymnasium to see it all. When they saw their completed work they shouted with joy.

Students from around the world, like 14-year-old Yasmin Branco from Brazil and 14-year-old Heloise Halse from France, said they enjoyed working long and hard on the project. Yasmin said, "I worked really hard on it, and I'm glad it turned out so well. I love the whole thing."

The mural will be on display in the park through June 30.

Photos: (Top) A detail of the completed mural; (Second) On display at Tanmachi Park; (Third and fourth) Kids from Japan and eight other countries work together to make a balanced work of art (Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama City); (Bottom) The unveiling on February 24.