Mural Contest Runner-up: A Hand Reaches Out
This winter, runaway and homeless youth programs funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau were given the chance to win the materials to paint a wall mural in their facilities. In a series of Beat posts, we recognize the runners-up and the winner.
This mural is in graffiti style with the focus being on an outstretched hand holding the word “outreach.” Although the sketch is in black and white, the intention is for the mural to include many vibrant colors. Within the word there is a cityscape of Manchester, NH, the community in which our street outreach program takes place. The cityscape will include some landmark buildings including the historic mills and the Fisher Cats minor league baseball stadium. There are also a rising sun behind the city buildings and four arrows pointing north, south, east and west. The background of the mural will have smaller pictures in less vibrant colors that depict the world beyond Manchester, including our state, our country, a representation of a world map, as well as possibly the universe. This mural will be completed using caulking for dimension and texture as well as spray painting and brush painting.
Meaning of the Mural
There are many complex meanings within this mural. The outstretched hand is intended to represent the mission of the outreach program to truly reach out to the entire community of Manchester. The rising sun behind the cityscape was added to represent hope and opportunity. The arrows signify the attempt to reach out to all corners of our community, and also the hope that our message travels beyond the city limits. The pictures in the background represent the connection that Manchester has to other parts of the state, country and beyond as well as the fact that many of the youth we serve come from other parts of the country and the world.
Use of Positive Youth Development
This mural idea has been a long time coming for our program. In 2007 the Street Outreach Program moved from one building to a newly renovated building around the corner. The then-clients expressed a strong desire to be part of the decoration and design of the new space. Unfortunately, at the time this was not possible, although it remained a goal. Finally, in July 2010 the process began. A group of youth who had expressed interest in art became part of the Youth Advisory Board and the brainstorming began. Over a period of a few months, the process included discussions about what Street Outreach meant and what could represent the program. After seeing each other’s work, the youth decided which of them would draw up some sketches. These sketches were then displayed, and all youth had an opportunity to vote on their favorite. It was at this time that staff attended the National FYSB Conference and became aware of the art contest. Staff brought this back to the youth and the youth decided they wanted to enter. A staff member presented the youth with the task to describe the mural and explain the mural. The youth completed a bulleted list of ideas, and staff made this into the paragraphs written above. The implementation of the mural will be completed by youth with guidance from staff.
Child and Family Services, Manchester, NH