ROGERS PARK — After two long years, 12-year-old Athniya Bell finally saw her hard work pay off when two 10-foot-tall murals were unveiled at the Willye B. White Park field house Friday.
"It took forever," said Athniya, who worked on the murals depicting a ground-breaking local Olympian along with a dozen other girls from the community.
With help from organizers at two non-profits — Family Matters of Rogers Park and Little Black Pearl in Kenwood — the girls painted the murals, which were outlined by Chicago artist Ellamonique Baccus.
"[The painting] means a journey that they're seeing from beginning to completion," said Ashaki McClain, the teen program director at Family Matters. "For kids that young, that's rare."
The two paintings, in the field house's gym, depict five-time track-and-field Olympian Willye B. White competing in the games with various scenes as the backdrop, including the American flag and Chicago's skyline.
A quote overlays the murals: "A dream without a plan is only a wish." — Willye B. White.
White competed in the five summer games from 1956 to 1972, winning a gold medal, two silvers and a bronze.
"I think she has accomplished a lot," Bell said.
Fieldhouse supervisor Jerry Wallace wanted to make the unveiling a "big deal," so he invited friends of White and other members of the community.