The Innovator Fellowship Program Unites Community Members and Organizations to Ignite Happiness and Well being in Sheboygan and Beyond

Maddie and the Whales

The Happiness Project launches this summer as a collection of inspired offerings centered on raising awareness for mental health issues facing today’s youth. The Happiness Project is anchored by a large-scale mural in downtown Sheboygan artfully designed to elicit positive emotions and wonder. A collaboration of community members, partners, organizations, and businesses, The Happiness Project is led by local high school student Madeline (Maddie) Green as part of The Innovator Fellowship Program. The mural was completed on June 1 and launches a series of corresponding programming and offerings at Above & Beyond Children’s Museum (ABCM) and throughout Sheboygan County.

“Happiness is a lifestyle, a community and the inner foundation of all human kind. The contagious effect of a simple smile is the drive of The Happiness Project,” said Green. “Together as a community, we can help individuals find the beauty, light and happiness within themselves and our city.”

The Innovator Fellowship Program, a collaboration between North High School and Jake’s Café Creative Community, inspired Green to begin brainstorming, researching and collaborating with local community members and organizations including Mental Health America of Sheboygan, Above & Beyond Children’s Museum, The Sheboygan Area School District, and local artist Jessica Rassel.

“Public art is known to be beneficial in countless ways acting as a community anchor and a placemaker that creates a sense of belonging and can improve public health by eliciting wonder and beauty,” said Jackie Erdman, Executive Director of Above & Beyond Children’s Museum. “This awe-inspiring mural is sure to instill happiness and positive emotions in passersby of all ages."

Located on the expansive north wall of Above & Beyond Children’s Museum, the mural promotes the joy of love and companionship such as that found in the world's largest beloved mammals – the whale. The idea behind the imagery of these majestic creatures is to challenge youth to think bigger, deeper and wider in their pursuit of making the world a better happier place.

The project continues beyond the walls of the museum with the crafting of The Happiness Project- themed Buddy Benches to be placed at various Sheboygan Area School District Schools and throughout the city. The ABCM Children’s Garden, the outdoor space adjacent to the mural, will host corresponding wellness programming including yoga, meditation, tai chi, health, and nourishment.

Financial support for this project was provided by The Efroymson Family, Dave & Sandy Sachse, The Terry Kohler Family Foundation, Activate8 - a lean non-profit organization striving to make Sheboygan an even better place to live - and various other donors, some of whom remained anonymous totaling $62,000. Materials and equipment for the mural were donated by Manager Brent Dekker of Sherwin Williams Paint Store located in Sheboygan. Time lapse video footage was donated by Jessica and Lauren Schmitt of Double Vision Films of Sheboygan. Future contributions to The Happiness Project can be made to support future initiatives. Visit or by calling (920) 458-4263, or mailed to Above & Beyond Children’s Museum, Attn: The Happiness Project, 902 N. 8th Street, Sheboygan, WI 53081.