PPG uses colour psychology for R1.5m Mamelodi High School makeover

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Global paints and coatings company PPG has completed a R1.5-million refurbishment at Mamelodi Secondary School in Pretoria.

The vibrant makeover is a New Paint for a New Start initiative, and part of PPG’s Colourful Communities programme.

Globally the company dedicated June, July and August to protecting and beautifying schools around the world, using research-based colours and PPG colour expertise, to help students thrive. Mamelodi Secondary, also known as Mamelodi High School, is one of 27 needy schools to be given a transformative facelift in 2023.

Before the makeover:

The local project brought together more than 80 South African volunteers, including PPG employees, customers, suppliers and school teachers, to help paint Mamelodi High with products from a number of PPG business units in South Africa. The massive undertaking included refurbishing more than 10 school buildings, which included 33 classrooms, railings, road markings, curbs, parking bays, signage and more. Over 4 500L of Prominent Paints and PPG paints and coatings were used in the refurbishment, including protective coating PPG Sigmashield 880 with excellent corrosion resistance. And when the last coat had cured, the school was unrecognisable from what it was just a month ago.

Inspiring Mural a Work of Art

The most memorable feature of the project is an 88m2 mural painted in the school’s central quad. Designed by Strange Harvest mural artist, Murray Cowan, the vibrant multi-dimensional work of art is intended to inspire learners with meaningful imagery and messages they can relate to. The three cornerstones of a Mamelodi Secondary School education include academics, sport and culture. These pillars are creatively represented in the artwork using 16 striking colours. Forward in Faith, the school motto, is included as a reminder to the learners that whatever challenges they might face, when it comes to learning, no matter how hard it may be, they must push forward and master their academics.

Commenting on the company’s approach to supporting local communities, PPG Sales Director, Protective & Marine Coatings, Africa, Danie du Preez says: “As a company PPG has a strong sense of social accountability. We help people through our community engagement efforts, and improving educational facilities in the markets where we operate, is just one of our focus areas. In a country where the education system leaves many children behind, due to poorly maintained school buildings and crumbling infrastructure, the need for school refurbishments, through public-private partnerships, could not be more urgent. We are gratified to help beautify Mamelodi High and to create learning spaces that inspire bright starts for its learners.”

Colourful spaces spread Joy and foster learning

Global research1 indicates that painting with colours specifically intended to enhance learning can improve both students’ and teachers’ experiences in the classroom. Colour can increase engagement in learning and it’s been shown that high levels of student engagement are linked to stronger academic performance. Colour not only affects attention and absorption of information, it also plays an important role in moderating behaviour and attitude. Students taught in classrooms painted in colours specifically selected to elevate and enhance the physical environment, are calmer, more focused, happier and attentive.

With this in mind, most of PPG’s transformation projects have used a single global palette2 developed by the company’s colour experts. At Mamelodi High, volunteers used a foundation palette with colours Swirling Smoke (light gray) or Happy Trails (cappuccino beige). Studies prove that access to nature and natural-feeling surroundings helps foster creativity, alleviate stress and increase positivity. Energy was provided with bold, eye-catching, accent colours, including Teeny Bikini (deep blue), Succulent Leaves (muted green) and Golden Hour (zesty yellow). When it comes to colours, too many stimuli and the senses are overloaded, too little and productivity suffers. Du Preez says that these colours are guaranteed to strike just the right balance and have been chosen specifically for learners aged 14 to 18 years of age.

“Colourful Communities projects aim to help students start each day with a positive outlook and create joyful learning environments – where students feel supported, and engaged, and these palettes have been engineered to do just that,” adds du Preez.

In addition to painting spaces, PPG supplied the school with 35 new non-magnetic whiteboards (2.4m x 1.2m) and 35 new blackboards (2m x 1.2m).

Giving for good

Mamelodi High School principal, Mogo Selahle says that gratitude is the brush that colours the world with kindness. Adding to this he says, “We are indebted to PPG for selecting our school as the beneficiary of this year’s Colourful Communities project. The generous paint donation has brought vibrant possibilities and endless creativity to our environment. Support like this illuminates the path of learning and will inspire our students to dream, create and thrive. Our school is the heart of our community and this investment will help us produce well-rounded, contributing members of society.”

In closing du Preez says: “In a world where education is the key to a better future, we believe in the power of giving back. It took over 10 000 volunteering hours and more than 14 000l of paint to finish all of the 27 schools around the globe and PPG provided more than US$1million (R19 000 000) in support to recipient schools. These projects have all been fueled by our commitment to protecting and beautifying the world, and our passion for improving the lives of others – specifically the next generation of leaders. We feel confident that our legacy will be enjoyed by many – for many years to come.”

Since the inception of the Colourful Communities programme, 500 refurbishments have been completed, positively impacting more than 8.2 million people in 50 countries. The company has invested nearly US$12-million (R230 000 000) in the projects, using nearly 190 000L of paint to create inspiring positive spaces. In recognition of the 500th project milestone, PPG is committing an additional US$5-million (R95 000 000) to the Colourful Communities programme through 2030.

  1. Exploring the Impact of Colour on Classrooms – research conducted with RAND Corporation and Campos: https://communities.ppg.com/colorful-communities/classroom-color-research
  2. PPG guide to colorful classrooms: https://communities.ppg.com/getmedia/59a00db2-cda2-48bd-ae6f-3f9e053ddb6b/PPGColorfulCommunities_NewPaintforaNewStart_ColorGuide_2023-(1).pdf