Lewis Griswold

Children from five nations bridge continents to make a mural together in peace

The unveiling of a mural last week at ImagineU Interactive Children’s Museum in Visalia has put the city on the international children’s map.

ImagineU director Peter Sodhy said he has been working on plans for the mural for eight years.

“It’s proof of (the) concept that museums can all work together and don’t have to spend a lot of money,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot more of this to come.”

The mural is composed of five panels painted at children’s museums in Australia, El Salvador, Germany, Nigeria and Visalia.

Images of each panel were scanned and transmitted to the museums. They were printed onto vinyl panels locally and hung together as one mural.

The murals were all unveiled Wednesday, the International Day of Peace, which is fitting because the theme of the mural is world peace.

Worldwide, 337 children worked on the five panels. On the back of each panel are photos of the children.

“I’ve always felt kids need to interact with kids from other places,” Sodhy said. “We really need to expand our kids’ horizons.”

Luckily, children’s museums are places where new ideas are welcome, Sodhy said.

“I contacted each museum out of the blue,” he said. “They all liked the concept. Ninety-nine percent of the communication was by email.”

He estimated it cost about $3,000 to make the project happen in Visalia. Photographer Tim Fleming of Clovis transferred the images from each museum to vinyl for the ImagineU exhibit.

Sodhy supplied the panel dimensions – 6 feet tall by 3 feet wide – and each museum came up with its own design.

In Visalia, senior docent Maddie Pullen designed the ImagineU panel that depicts the world’s continents.

Using colors, dozens of children put their thumbprints on each continent to show the idea of “from many colors – one.”

The mural is on permanent display at ImagineU, 210 N. Tipton St., Visalia.

GOOD CITIZEN: Paul Geiger of Visalia received a Citizen Award last week from the Fresno and Madera Counties Police Chiefs Association, presented to him by Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Geiger was watching TV news when he saw the story about Jason Collins of Fresno, who was hit by a drunken driver while riding his motorcycle and ended up in the hospital for weeks.

Surgeons had to amputate his leg.

He required a prosthetic leg to walk again, but there was a problem. His insurance wouldn’t pay for it.

Geiger figured he could help because he owns Geiger Prosthetics and Orthotics in Visalia.

Using spare parts he had and some custom parts, he could create a prosthetic leg that would do the job – and do it for free.

“It’s not a whole lot of money out of my pocket to give a guy his life back,” Geiger said.

In the end, the insurance company came through and Geiger ended up using all new parts to make the prosthetic.

RESPITE HOUSE: The Rotary Respite House in Visalia held its grand opening last week.

The house, a few blocks from Kaweah Delta Medical Center, is a place where families with a loved one in the hospital can stay for free.

It’s a nice duplex: One unit has three bedrooms, the other has two bedrooms, and both have two bathrooms, a kitchen and a laundry room.

The Visalia Rotary Community Foundation built the home. The hospital is renting it for $1 a year and handling the requests for use.

Major donors include the Sharon and Mark Fisher family and the Mike and Eric Shannon family, both of Visalia.

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Fresno Bee: 559-441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com, @fb_LewGriswold