Paul Kinder Middle School's art teacher, Julie Heide, is one of 123 local artists chosen for the "Parade of Hearts" community project. She submitted her sketches along with 700 other entries and secured her place with two heart designs that celebrate Kansas City.
One of her designs is based on local chocolatiers and the other pays tribute to the history of jazz and Black artists in Kansas City. For Heide, it is an artistic approach to teaching Black history.
"A lot of these jazz musicians that performed in Kansas City were big part of the area. Really started to help create part of the movement that made the music today," Heide said.
She wanted to leverage her opportunity of being in the public eye by creating something meaningful with a timeless message. Her hearts will be scattered across the metro mid-March, along with others, sparking conversations about Black pioneers in Kansas City's history.
"I just think we need to appreciate what has been with us before," Heide said. "Art definitely gives you space to share your opinions, to try to listen to new sights and see how people express it."
Navigating conversations around race has been tricky at times as a teacher, but being a part of the Black Lives Matter movement and seeing her students take a stand at a young age inspired Heide. Now, these topics are a part of her curriculum.
"I really wanted to try to express it — I care about what is happening," Heide said. "I definitely try to teach my students all about different Black artists and different people with influence that we all just need to know about more."
She hopes the research and effort she poured into the project will pay off by helping bridge the gap between those from different walks of life.
"I really want them to see that Kansas City really does have heart, and it can come together and influence each other in positive ways," Heide said.
This story was originally published by JuYeon Kim on kshb.com.