Mural Contest Runner-up: Tearing Down Walls and Opening Doors
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.
ReStart’s Youth Emergency Shelter serves youth 12-18. ReStart’s mission as a whole is committed to providing shelter and supportive services to homeless men, women, youth and families with the goals of helping people move toward independence and self-sufficiency and ending homelessness in our community.
Our youth had a discussion about what brought them all to reStart and different challenges and adversities they had faced in their lives. Common themes of the discussion included feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. All had described feeling unwanted or feeling like they did not belong.
Through this conversation many of them shared how these experiences have made them build up walls to protect themselves from being let down by others, lies people tell them, hurtful things people do to them.
Another common theme was that most of them had experienced an extreme amount of displacement. Most of them had experienced homelessness in their own families and shared their memories of moving from one place to the next and never really feeling like they had a stable home. A lot of them shared how they were turned away from their families and have been trying to survive by going from couch to couch wherever they could find one.
When discussing what images they wanted in their drawing someone brought up the idea of a door. At first the door just symbolized moving, the constant opening and closing of the doors to where they were coming and going from. Then someone added that it could also signify the door to reStart. Another youth added how the door to reStart was also a door to new beginnings, a door to hope, a door to feeling like home. The youth wanted the door to be the central focus of the drawing.
Next, someone suggested drawing a wall around the door to symbolize the walls that each of them had built up in their lives out of necessity. From there they decided that one side of the wall would be words that described all of the negative feelings they had felt prior to coming to reStart and in their life experiences. They wanted the other side to be words that describe how they feel now and how staff here make them feel cared for and hopeful. One youth suggested having the top corner of the wall on the positive side crumbling down. This was to represent how, slowly, they each have started to open up to staff and each other.
– reStart, Kansas City, MO