Though they had packed schedules while they were in the United States, students and their chaperones from Kakuda, Japan, made sure to lend a hand to local artists painting a mural during a recent trip to Greenfield.

The colorful mural blending Japanese and American cultures covers a building along the Pennsy Trail, transforming what was once a graffiti-covered white wall overgrown with weeds.

Greenfield artist Connie Schmidt sketched the design being painted by local artists Deborah Smith, Sandy Hall and others.

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The project, which aims to transform a plain, overgrown area on the Pennsy Trail in Greenfield, received funding through a $2,000 grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation given to a four-way partnership among Greenfield Main Street, the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department, Hancock County Arts & Cultural Council and Greenfield Sister Cities.

The mural serves as the backdrop to the Sister Cities tree park on the north side of the Pennsy Trail, just east of Center Street.

“This project will help beautify the Pennsy Trail in a challenging area,” said Ellen Kuker, parks superintendent. “The Pennsy has so much natural beauty to offer, but there are a few challenging spots, and the mural area is definitely one of them.”

Schmidt hopes her design, which features Japanese children, the country’s national bird and tree on one side and American children with the Indiana state map and a cardinal on the other, will raise awareness of the Sister Cities program.

“I wanted the design to blend the cultures of Greenfield with our sister city of Kakuda,” she said. “It’s intended to show the differences but also the similarities of our two cultures.”

Community Foundation president Mary Gibble said she was thrilled to help fund a project that not only beautifies the local trail but benefits a partnership of local agencies.

“The Hancock County Community Foundation sees great value in organizations collaborating to maximize the impact of a project,” she said. “The grant for the mural is a great example of teamwork on a project that will enhance the Pennsy Trail.”