- LAura Montgomery Rutt
Most kids would kill for free reign over a few gallons of paint and a section of white wall, and for two weeks in July, members of the E.A. Tutt branch of the Boys and Girls Club got their chance.
Twenty kids worked together to paint a mural, themed "Valuing Differences," in the cafeteria of the club on Chelton Road. Kids from one of the most culturally diverse areas of the city talked about their favorite colors and designs and themselves while getting messy.
"I think what I learned from the mural is to accept people the way they are and to look at them the way they see themselves," says 11-year-old Kyrie Joslyn-McCant.
The mural, part of the Boys and Girls Club's Street SMART Gang Resistance Program, is a series of self-portraits linked by a ribbon displaying words like "unity," "diversity" and "pride." Veronica Early, the club's cultural arts director, says conversations about diversity unfolded as they painted.
"One little kid said that even though we have different skin colors, we're all the same on the inside," she says.
Some portrayed themselves with pink hair, others with two or three fingers per hand.
"If I wanted to draw myself as a cartoon, I could have," says 10-year-old Kate Provo (pictured above). "But I didn't think of myself that way."
All of them got messy, which Provo and Joslyn-McCant loved. And although the project took two hours a day, Early says it wasn't hard to get the kids to work.
"It was hard to get them to stop."