Milwaukee County Transit System bus stops around the city are getting a lot more colorful and interactive as a part of a new initiative between MCTS, Milwaukee's Office of Early Childhood Initiatives, Milwaukee Public Schools and BVK.
"We're sharing a very important message today, and that message is getting young people engaged and heading in the right direction early on in their lives is essential," said Mayor Cavalier Johnson during a Tuesday morning press conference. "I want young people in Milwaukee to be curious. I want young people in Milwaukee to be inquisitive. I want young people to learn about the world that's around them."
Children will be able to do just that with the now Pop Stop murals that will decorate 24 bus shelters around the city. Part of the MCTS Bus Shelter Art Project, the murals will feature interactive games and other activities for children to enjoy while waiting with their parent or guardian for the bus.
"We designed each shelter with several criteria in mind," said Gary Mueller, founder and creative director of BVK and SERVE. "The activities include counting, identifying shapes, objects, colors, foods. Some are designed around reading stories or scavenger hunts. Some even include physical activity."
Dea Wright is the director for the city of Milwaukee's Office of Childhood Initiatives. She says the idea for the Pop Spots has been in the works for years. She's happy to see it finally come to fruition.
"It's going to be really special when I'm driving down the street and I see someone standing there and looking at it," Wright said. "I believe that it is possible for Milwaukee to be covered with opportunities for children to be able to engage with their families. Talk, read, sing, love, learn together wherever they are."
Wright says the bus stops are just one stop on her and her office's mission to keep kids engaged and educated.
"I am sick and tired of the achievement gap, the opportunity gap; everything I hear about children of color," Wright said. "Every single child, regardless of race or income, should have access to spaces that promote healthy development."
Dr. Felicia Saffold works for Milwaukee Public Schools as senior director of curriculum and instruction. She echoed the importance of keeping kids engaged when not in the classroom.
"Pop Stops are an exciting, interactive learning opportunity for families and children," Dr. Saffold said. "We think about early literacy and promoting literacy and oral language, and capitalizing on every moment that you can do that, so this is awesome."
All 24 shelters where Pop Stops will be located are set to be finished within the next two weeks. The goal is to have the murals up for years to come.