On July 14, participants in the first two phases of the Murals with a Mission powered by PNC initiative took part in a pregame ceremony at Great American Ball Park before the Reds kicked off the second half of the season.
The Reds and PNC Bank first teamed up for the project last fall with the intention of creating murals at high school campuses across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky that elevate positive social messages relevant to each school’s student body.
Under the guidance and leadership of local artist Brent Billingsley, who serves as the project’s creative director and lead artist, and with the support of the Reds and PNC, students at each location worked together to develop a concept, design and finished product through which fellow students can feel themselves represented.
“The Reds are grateful to PNC for the opportunity to amplify positive messages in our local high schools in such a fun and inclusive way with this unique mural program,” Reds senior vice president of business operations Karen Forgus, said. “It’s been incredible seeing how Brent guides these students through a creative process that helps them originate a design and message that is unique to their school and will resonate with their fellow students.”
The first schools selected were Mason High School and Princeton High School, which both debuted their murals in November of last year. The project at Mason came to life thanks to the Students Involving & Befriending Students (SIBS) club. At Princeton, the school’s HOPE Squad -- a peer-to-peer, suicide prevention program that emphasizes suicide prevention fundamentals, self-care and anti-bullying -- eagerly accepted the challenge. This year, Loveland High School became the third participant in the program, with the school’s HOPE Squad unveiling their mural on March 31. Dixie Heights High School became the fourth and most recent addition, with the “Random Acts of Kindness” student group revealing their creation on May 5.
Members of all four student groups and teachers who assisted with the initiative attended the on-field salute. They were joined by Billingsley; Forgus; Warren Weber, PNC regional president for Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky; and Heather Eberenz, PNC’s client and community relations specialist. Each participant was introduced on the field while images from each site’s mural reveal were displayed on the ballpark’s videoboards.
“Diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of everything we do at PNC. Both the Reds and PNC share in a commitment to supporting and strengthening our communities,” Weber said. “We applaud the work of the students who are focused on bringing us all together through their passion and creativity.”
After the game and prior to the fireworks show that caps every Reds home game on Fridays, the scoreboards played a video produced by Billingsley, capturing many of the amazing moments the artist has shared with the students at all four schools.
With the collaboration and creativity shown by the students and the positivity that has come out of the first four murals, the Reds and PNC are excited to keep Murals with a Mission momentum going and identify the next school ready to hit it out of the park.