Mural Contest Third Place Winner: Tree of Life, Growth and Change

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Drawing of a tree.

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 mural in their facilities. In a series of Beat posts, we recognize the runners-up and the winner. Here are the essay and artwork submitted by the third-place winner, Sasha Bruce Youthwork, in Washington, DC.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork is submitting a design created by youth in the art therapy group at the Sasha Bruce House: DC’s only short-term shelter for young people. Sasha Bruce House provides a safe place to stay and intensive counseling services. Sasha Bruce House helps most youth reunite with their families and works to return all young people to stable and safe environments. The art therapy group meets twice a week and is comprised of youth currently residing in the program, which averages two to three weeks in duration. The youth desired to design a mural that represented what the program has meant to them, as well as how the various Sasha Bruce programs extend their reach into the community. Sasha Bruce Youthwork provides a variety of services to young people and their families including  a place to stay, counseling, and life-skills classes that can lead them back to a more stable and supportive family situation, or on a path to true independence and self-sufficiency.

The youth chose to create a design similar to a family tree that illustrates all of the programs and services that the Sasha Bruce “family” provides to them and the community. The tree was viewed as a symbol of stability as well as growth and change. Several young people were able to relate to this symbol as representing different stages in their life and emotions they experienced, such as “in the winter, the tree is bare...this is like me when I feel sad and depressed” and “in the spring all the leaves are growing on the tree...this is like me growing up and moving on in my life.” 

The youth decided to use the symbol of the tree, including the various Sasha Bruce programs on the branches of the tree. These are represented by five overarching themes that encompass the various Sasha Bruce programs: Safe Homes, Tomorrow’s Leaders, Building Opportunities, Healthy Lives and Stable Families. Each of these areas are represented by an apple on the tree.

Additional 2012 Winners:

Mural Contest First Place Winner: Colorado Teens Take a Stand Against Youth Homelessness, Colorado Rural Collaborative Youth Leadership Team

Mural Contest Second Place Winner: A Lifeline to Those in Need, Sea Haven Transitional Living Program Junior Advisory Team, in Horry County, SC

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