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Ground Zero kids paint their world

Miller Photography

As lower Manhattan’s skyline heals, so do the families of Community Board 1, the neighborhood closest to Ground Zero. A mural was one of the community’s public service projects commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11. More photos >>

Miller Photography

UFT President Michael Mulgrew works alongside Tien, a student at Manhattan’s PS 234.

In the morning, they held hands with thousands of others in a human chain across lower Manhattan, and in the afternoon they put those hands to work, painting a mural to commemorate 9/11.

For many of the chir>ldren taking part in the Manhattan Community Board 1 “Hand in Hand” events on Sept. 10, Ground Zero was their backyard.

Although their parents lived through the attacks on the World Trade Center, most of the children were too young to remember. But their collective imaginations filled in the blanks as they put brush to paint at Pier 25 in a service project sponsored by the community board and the non-profit organization Manhattan Youth.

There were pictures of the Twin Towers. There were abstract riots of explosive colors, an airplane engulfed by a sea monster, utopias of butterflies and elephants, the globe, a giant star. Some just wrote their names in giant letters as if in affirmation of their existence.

“The city’s official memorial service is mainly for victims’ families, and 99.9 percent of New Yorkers cannot attend,” said Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin. “It was important that we mark the 10th anniversary together, especially with public service projects.”

Ten years ago, Pier 25, on the Hudson River in Tribeca, was used for stockpiling World Trade Center debris before shipping it across the river to New Jersey.

Now the pier is a huge recreational and athletic area that hundreds of kids use every day.

“We have 30,000 new residents, many of whom are young families,” Menin said.

Since those days of ashes and evacuation, two new schools have risen and another is on the way, due in large part to the advocacy of parents, Community Board 1 and the UFT. PS 276 in Battery Park City opened last year, PS 397 on Spruce Street opened in September and the third school is under construction near South Street Seaport.

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