Speak Life, Share Life, and Take Flight, are some of the positive messages on a new colorful mural painted by South Los Angeles at-risk middle school and high school students and community artist Moses Ball.
The 8-week Blue Shield Promise Community Art Therapy program was held in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles, Challengers Clubhouse and Wellnest (formerly Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic). The project helps local youth deal with everyday trauma they face by using their creativity to help design a mural based on their hopes and aspirations.
Each week, social workers and behavioral health specialists from Blue Shield Promise and Wellnest joined accomplished artist Ball who encouraged youth aged 11 to 17 to lend their creativity as they participated in the program. Art was used as a tool to help the program participants share their feelings and talk about difficult issues in a safe, nurturing space. As part of the program, a “Promise” theme mural was painted on the 20-foot by 60-foot wall outside the playground of the Boys and Girls Challengers Clubhouse.
The design is a brightly colored blue wall representing the faces of the children and showcasing their dreams about future occupations. For example, a young girl inspired by aviator Bessie Coleman is dressed like a pilot with an image of a plane taking flight behind her. Another shows a young girl rapper inspired by Nipsey Hussle’s music as well as his community work.
“The vision that inspired the mural is to repair the hurt from the challenges the youth face and in turn foster the dreams that still live inside them,” Ball said.
“It gives me great satisfaction to mentor youth both artistically and in life,” said Ball. “I hope to inspire the next generation to become Los Angeles muralists and beautify the community. With the support of Blue Shield Promise that provided resources and staff, I was able to focus on the artistic instruction and guidance of kids who played a key role in creating the mural.”
“It’s exciting to think that every time I come to the center, the mural gives me a sense of pride knowing that I helped paint it,” said Brailyn (12 years old), Boys & Girls Clubs Challenger Clubhouse member.
The mural is part of the Community Art Therapy Program, which includes guidance from trained behavioral health professionals. The goal is to help at-risk youth express their emotions in an invisible form, and assist them in building relationships with others. This program enables kids who are undergoing physical, emotional or mental crisis to increase their ability to explore, discover and interpret reality in a safe space.
“Blue Shield Promise is committed to investing in the communities where our members live to ensure they have every opportunity to have healthy and vibrant lives,” said Dr. Greg Buchert, President and CEO of Blue Shield Promise. “We are thrilled to have the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles and Wellnest joining our effort to create community programming like the youth art therapy that focuses on addressing the health needs of youth using art and engagement.”
“This was a great program for our youth because it provided them with an opportunity that they will be able to experience for years to come with the creating of this colorful new mural at the Challengers Club,” said Calvin Lyons, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles. “We’re delighted to work with Blue Shield Promise and Wellnest who understand the needs of healthy communities and offer their time and resources to boost children’s self-esteem and confidence through art therapy.”
Commenting on the power of art, Charlene Dimas-Peinado, President and CEO of Wellnest added, “We know that art can be used to engage, educate, express powerful emotions, and develop creative thinking and problem solving that can contribute to their future success. We are honored to be a partner on this program to give these young people those tools.”