MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Picking up paintbrushes and putting down negativity is the new goal for teens at Strickland Youth Center.
For 8 weeks they’ve turned their focus to creating an 8 by 66-foot floral masterpiece that will soon be displayed at the largest outdoor flower show in the Southeast.
The young people aren’t just painting inside the lines, they are painting a new future and attitude for themselves.
“People have a lot of concepts about these kids,” said Riley Brenes, Strickland Youth Center’s transitional programs coordinator. “Not only are they building this mural, but they’re building confidence. They’re no longer just kids who are court-involved; they’re kids who produced a piece of public art.”
This week, the artwork will be donated to the Festival of Flowers’ 30th-anniversary event which raises money for Providence hospital.
“It just means a lot to us that the youth are giving their time and are going to be able to donate this piece of artwork to us,” said Mary Margaret Blackwell with the Providence Foundation. “They have done this for us in the past and it has just always been beautiful.”
This project isn’t only benefitting the Festival of Flowers and Providence hospital, it’s also changing the lives of the youth working on it.
“It calms me when I come in here and paint,” said one painter.
“It feels like my life has a little purpose,” said another painter. “This is something pretty big in our city so I’m glad I got to be a part of something this big.”
Strickland Youth Center officials said their goal is to continue projects like this one so, people in the community can see how pouring into our once-troubled youth can make a difference.
“I hope it will make people see and realize they were children, children that had been painted in a very ugly color, allowing us to really show their true color,” said juvenile court Judge Edmond Naman.
The mural will be displayed from Thursday, March 23 through Saturday, March 25 during seminar presentations at the Festival of Flowers.
Click here for more information on the hours of the event.