“It’s a great tribute to our little boy whom we miss so much.”
8-year-old Tyler Neufeld lost his life after an extreme choking episode in December of 2018. Today, a painting of him beside a lake with his favorite red wagon adorns the walls of Ross L. Gray School where he used to attend.
Principal Jared Baines says the mural is part of a new reading corner meant to honor the beloved student.
“Tyler loved reading children’s books and he loved to be read to so when we gathered as a staff to discuss how we would pay our respects, we decided we were going to build a reading nook."
Baines says the painting, which decorates the nook, was illustrated by a few staff members of the school meanwhile the accompanying bench was designed and built by someone from the community.
"It means a lot to us,” Baines continues. “One day you walk by and you feel really sad and the next day you walk by and you have a glitter in your eye because you remember the little guy.”
During his life, Tyler was known for bringing joy wherever he went. Even as he died in the hospital Tyler made a difference by donating his liver to a child in Toronto, saving their life in the process. Now, Baines says this small memorial attempts to immortalize that legacy.
Read more: A Young Boy From Piney Loses His Life But Saves Another
Tyler’s mom Megan Neufeld says she was overwhelmed by the gesture.
“I know that he was well-loved at the school, but this has gone above and beyond what I would have ever expected. Now he’ll always be at the school.”
Neufeld agrees that the mural and corresponding reading area are reminiscent of her son
It’s beautiful,” she says, “it captures Tyler perfectly.”
The months since Tyler’s passing have not been easy for Neufeld, her husband, nor the staff and students left at the young boy’s school. However, Neufeld sees the picture on the wall as a sort of unique part of the mourning process.
“Things aren’t quite back to normal yet but seeing that painting shows me all of the good that Tyler did and all of the people he impacted.”
Baines says the mural, with its new bench, was dedicated at the beginning of the school year and has already become a favorite spot for some.
“At the end of the day, we wanted it to be a space that we all would enjoy, but that Tyler would have enjoyed especially.”
Neufeld agrees that the small commemorative book nook does just that.