2015 Mural Contest Winner: Gateway to Life

Child and Family Charities - Gateway Division's winning mural entry.

Congratulations to Child and Family Charities – Gateway Division in Lansing, Michigan, winners of the 2015 Family & Youth Services Bureau Mural Contest for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs.

For the fifth year, runaway and homeless youth programs funded by the bureau were given the chance to win the materials to paint a mural in their facilities. A jury of bureau staff and young people from Los Angeles LGBT Center, last year’s winning agency, picked the winner and two finalists.

Here is the winning artwork and accompanying essay. You can see many of the artwork entries in our 2015 Mural Contest slideshow.

The youth at the Gateway Division of Child and Family Charities, Kevin J. Moody Youth Home created the artwork for the mural contest. The youth sat down with a local volunteer artist to discuss their ideas and create a rough sketch. They immediately began talking about the agency name “Gateway” and how the mural should feature a gate of some type.

The youth stated that participating in the transitional living program is like opening the gate to your new life. Program staff then asked what that new life might mean to them. Each youth spoke about what their goals are for after the program. The artist helped them choose an image to represent all of their goals. The youth discussed having a family, making and keeping supportive friendships, completing some type of educational goal, obtaining a fulfilling job and earning enough money to support oneself. The youth were asked to acknowledge that all their goals were different and to be supportive of the diversity in the program.

Here is the sketch the youth and the artist created together. The wooden gate opening toward the tree represents the beginning of the transitional living program. The youth stated the program opens many doors toward building a better life in the future. The yellow brick path represents the journey each youth takes to reach their goals of independent living.

The abundant tree with the word “LIFE” carved into it represents several things:

  • The roots growing into the bricks connect the achieved goals to the journey the youth took to reach them.
  • The tree has a thick, sturdy trunk to represent the strength and stability the youth aim to achieve.
  • The branches reaching upward represent the many successes each youth will have in their life.
  • The abundant leaves represent the ability to support oneself and having reached financial, employment and educational goals.

The holding hands represent the love and support the youth get from family, friends, program staff and each other. The squirrel in the picture represents the youth’s distractions in life that can create obstacles to reaching their goals. The stained glass on either side of the gate colored with many hues represents the beauty and light the youth bring to the community, the program and each other.

View all the entries in this year’s mural contest.

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