The city of Lawrence unveiled a symbol of its vaccination campaign in the form of a blue-and-yellow heart last week, thanks to the work done by a group of local teens.
Fashioned from steel and plexiglass by students from the metal fabrication program at Greater Lawrence Technical School, the sculpture was uncovered in the plaza beside Lawrence City Hall, but will eventually be moved inside.
There it will be stationed at the entrance of a clinic where locals can get free vaccines, and where the heart will not only serve as a symbol of hope, but also act as a kind of scoreboard.
“This sculpture was designed with the intention of showing the vaccine progress in the city of Lawrence,” said Mayor Kendrys Vasquez. “Each slat that you see represents 10 percent of Lawrence residents who have been vaccinated.”
The blue slats rest horizontally in a metal frame that is empty at the top, showing room for improvement, in spite of the progress that has been made.
As of Monday, 56.8% of Lawrence residents had received at least one vaccine dose, and more than 90% of citizens over 65 had been vaccinated, Vazquez said. He encouraged those who still haven’t been vaccinated to visit the city’s website, where they can find help locating a shot.
“How tremendous it would be if this heart was filled all the way to the top, if all the residents in Lawrence were vaccinated,” he said. “That’s our goal, and I know that together, we can accomplish that.”
Vasquez also presented the heart as an incentive, when he invited anyone in the crowd who hadn’t been vaccinated to do so at City Hall.
“Be one of the first individuals to take your picture, right after getting your vaccine, with our beautiful vaccine sculpture,” he said.
State Rep. Frank Moran contrasted the inspiring presence of the heart sculpture with a somber memorial on the Common across the street, where empty chairs represent Lawrence citizens who have died from COVID-19.
“One of those chairs over there belongs to my brother, 53 years old,” Moran said. “Make sure you get your vaccine. Don’t become the next empty chair in that lot. Got out there, get your vaccine and protect not only yourselves, but everyone around you. It’s free. You have three pharmacies in the city of Lawrence that have it.”
John Lavoie, superintendent of Greater Lawrence Technical School, thanked the mayor for commissioning his students to make the sculpture, which was based on a design by one of their teachers, Stephanie Dicecca.
“A project like this is an opportunity for our students to really embrace a project that is so important to the community,” Lavoie said. “I think education is not all about books and building things, but doing things that can help and support their community.”
Certificates of recognition were presented at the unveiling to Carlos Burgos and Orlendi Hernandez, both from Lawrence, and Brady Valliere of Methuen, three seniors who helped create the sculpture.
They said the project took a month and a half to execute, with two metal fabrication classes taking turns working on it for a week at a time.
“Welding is a passion of mine, and I’m just thankful that I could be part of this project for the city of Lawrence,” Valliere said.
The heart frame rests on a base of four large syringes, and the phrase “Lawrence Saves Lives” appears in metal letters on each of its sides, in Spanish and English.
“I believe this, and I want all of our residents to believe this, too,” Vazquez said. “Each of us has the power to save a life by getting vaccinated today. There are plenty of vaccinated sites all around the city.”