The end of graffiti the beginning of pride for detroit youth

The end of graffiti the beginning of pride for detroit youth
The end of graffiti the beginning of pride for detroit youth
The community around the Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (UNI) in Southwest Detroit has been concerned about graffiti. This summer, more than 40 youth worked with professional artists from the Center for Creative Studies to paint murals on garage doors, fences and the walls of area businesses. The results have reached far beyond a summer art project. “Before I used to walk down the street and see graffiti everywhere,” said 14-year-old Cristian Rubio. “Now I see the art that I did. It makes me feel better about everything.” Painting a positive picture Rubio was part of UNI’s Summer Urban Arts Mural Project, funded through federal stimulus dollars and coordinated by City Connect Detroit (CCD). More than 200 young adults are still being employed by the program that put more than 7,000 14- 24-year-olds to work this summer. As CCD completes its evaluation of its city wide youth employment program, it’s becoming clear that exposing young people to constructive jobs is a long-term workforce solution to chronic unemployment. “We know that for every youth who has a positive summer work experience, we have set one more person on the path toward full employment,” said Larry Hightower, director of the Detroit Workforce Development Department. “That’s something that pays off for years to come.” “Originally, the murals program was part of an alley clean-up project,” said Christine Bell, UNI’s youth development director. “We added the murals because of our graffiti problem. The murals beautify the neighborhood and allow the area businesses and residents to commission art work. We have talented, artistic youth and it gave them a sense of ownership, community pride and engagement. It also gave them leadership skills and a chance to work with professional artists. Other youth got to connect with a positive adult. It was good for everyone.” Now, every time Rubio walks through his neighborhood, he sees his own artwork and is filled with a sense of ownership.
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