When freshman Maggie Johnson of Acworth was told by her first-year seminar professor to investigate a world problem and propose a solution, she knew she didn’t want to take the easy route.
“I wanted to kind of take it to the next level,” said Johnson, a marketing major. “I don’t like just doing the basics.”
Some students volunteers at pet stores or hospice centers.
Johnson formed Kennesaw Step Up, a campaign urging students to lead healthy lives by changing simple habits, such as taking stairs instead of an elevator, and tackled a daunting art project hoping to encourage students to make the lifestyle change.
She recruited about 40 volunteers to take to the campus central parking deck, armed with paint brushes and $1,500 in supplies to paint the mural in the stairwell of the eight-story parking garage.
Johnson’s inspiration came from similar art instillations by the Take the Stairs campaign, based out of the Boston Public Health Commission, and a subway staircase in Stockholm, Sweden that was transformed into an interactive piano.
The painting surrounds a ribbon that begins on the top floor and extends to the bottom, changing colors and themes throughout.
An inspirational quote, “There’s no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs,” kicks off the mural on the first floor and then morphs into a green mural promoting environmental awareness before becoming a cardiovascular-themed painting, and then a mental health-themed display featuring a beach scene.
From there, the mural becomes a sunset Johnson said is motivation to get students to keep going and take the stairs. A purple painting follows promoting the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraiser Relay for Life before the mural is finished with a Kennesaw State-themed wall.
KSU alumna Stephanie Hartrick helped design the paintings, while the final drawings were left up to current university art students.
The final touches of that mural were completed last fall, and Johnson said she’s found success.
“People are saying that it makes their day to see it,” she said.
Johnson now has her sights on more opportunities to encourage students to take the stairs across campus, such as foot-shaped stickers leading to stairs in university buildings and artistic signs that could be placed near elevators and stairs. She hopes to have funding by the end of May.