Tired-a-Lot Summer Studio students making a difference in Fort Wayne’s Mount Vernon Park neighborhood

Members of Group B in the Tired-a-Lot Summer Studio program discuss their plans Wednesday for revitalizing a vacant lot in the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood. The presentation took place at a picnic and partial installation of projects by Tired-a-Lot program Groups A and B. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Gabe Grabriel, 16, right, a participant in the Tired-a-Lot Summer Studio, and Jesse Hartman, one of the program's design counselors, help construct a clubhouse structure Wednesday for Group A's project to revitalize a vacant lot in the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood in southeast Fort Wayne. Gabriel actually is a member of the program's Group B, but he was helping out on the Group A project. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Group A's Tired-a-Lot Summer Studio project includes installing a mural fence on their lot that depicts cartoons from the 1960s through today. The chalkboard paint square invites people to leave a comment or memory. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Neighborhood residents, parents of teens participating in the Tired-a-Lot Summer Studio and other people gathered Wednesday for a picnic lunch and to hear the Tired-a-Lot program teens discuss their plans for revitalizing two vacant lots in the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

Teens participating in the Tired-a-Lot Summer Studio program unveiled their project plans and started putting them into place today on two vacant lots in the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood in southeast Fort Wayne.

Teens participating in the five-week summer program learn about architecture, design, materials sustainability and problem-solving as they create projects to “reactivate” vacant lots in the neighborhood, an event news release said.

The young people were encouraged to use locally sourced and upcycled materials to build their lot projects, such as pallets and old tires.

The Tired-a-Lot program is organized by Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries, which is based at Many Nations Church, 5100 Gaywood Drive, in the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood.

The program was funded in part by a Knight Cities Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grants went to projects in cities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers, which included The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne.

The teen program and other programs organized by Bridge of Grace and Many Nations Church try to address needs in the neighborhood, Rena Bradley, an architect and the community development director at Bridge of Grace, told the group of neighbors and Tired-a-Lot teens’ parents who gathered for a picnic lunch and to hear the teens make presentations about their projects.

• Group A plans to install a seating area and airy clubhouse structure with a tire swing in their lot. The group also planned a cartoon-themed fence mural.

The fence will be installed along the back and side of the lot and will be painted with depictions of cartoon characters from the 1960s through today, design plans said. The mural will be interactive, with some chalkboard paint panels asking people to leave a comment or memory related to a question posed in the mural.

• Group B plans to transform a corner lot by building a trellis, paths, planter boxes that offer bench-style seating and installing a butterfly garden.

A play area will have old tires that are standing up vertically with their bases partially buried in the soil, a design rendering shows. The tires will be painted in bright colors and will have small signs sticking up out of them.

The group also plans to build a butterfly-themed mural fence around part of the property.

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