Breaking the Cycle of Youth Vandalism Through Beautification

Hometown pride was the theme of the summer for Newark children living in Lincoln Park Apartments. Arts to Grow students ages 6 and up worked with visual arts TA Catt Melendez to create a mural celebrating their neighborhood. Their finished masterpiece, which they titled “A Vision of Lincoln Park,” can be taken apart for easy transport, enabling it to be displayed in public spaces throughout the city.

Throughout the summer, the students delved into the history of their neighborhood while mastering visual arts techniques to express their own ideas about Lincoln Park. In keeping with the spirit of community, the children worked together to create one cohesive work of art.

This program allowed our students to have a learning experience that helped to develop and strengthen the positive bonds between these youth and their families, schools, and community by creating a portable mural to be displayed in various places within Newark. Since 60% of Lincoln Park Apartments youth live in single-parent working households, arts-based programming is more important than ever. These types of programs are keeping kids safe, engaging them in learning, and helping them to grow in positive ways. Mural-making promotes strong community ties and provides a positive alternative to delinquent behaviors such as youth graffiti and vandalism by giving youth a public outlet for creative expression.

This program offered the youth of Lincoln Park Apartments direct hands-on experience in the research, design, and execution of a major public work of art for their community. Students worked as a team while learning how to positively interact within various peer-to-peer and peer-to-mentor relationships. Creating beautiful public art provided these students with an opportunity to translate what they learned into images they created, giving them a voice in their neighborhood and the palette with which to express themselves.