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Tuesday, 16 August 2011 14:26

The Center’s Mural picture perfect

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By Aasa Marshall
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The Center in Swift Current received a face-lift this past weekend; one that helps the facade to better represent the facility’s purpose and goals.

Regina artist Josh Goff, along with volunteers and students from Swift Current, painted a mural on the outer wall of The Center from Friday, August 12th to Sunday August 14th. After consulting with staff at The Center about the programming that goes on there, Goff chose the theme ‘Aspire’ for the mural, and the Swift Current youth involved expanded on the theme to make it ‘Sure love will aspire to greatness’.

The final product is a piece of urban art 6 by 18 meters in size which has replaced the formerly ‘blah wall’, said Swift Current Community Youth Initiative Director Jim Magee. The project also provided a creative outlet for youth that is not usually available.
“We have a lot of creative kids, and I know there’s a lot of sports and music programs but sometimes it’s hard for them to be able to express their creative idea artistically with graffiti. It’s kind of been shunned in the past.”

Magee said the mural was a positive, constructive, and legal way for youth to express themselves through graffiti art, and The Center is already receiving positive feedback for the piece.

“We’ve had some people who may be interested in doing something else in town, so I think it’s an encouragement not only to the kids that were working on this but also future youth that might be interested in doing the same thing,” he said.

With paint and artist fees, the mural cost around $3,000: Magee said he feels the money was well spent.

“It’s a big investment, but it’s something we get our youth involved with and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said, “...we’re trying to portray creativity and a positive environment, and a healthy and safe place to be.”

The Center, at 55 1st Ave N.E., provides programming by two different organizations: the Swift Current Community Youth Initiative, and the Fresh Start program, which helps young people without a Grade 12 education to secure employment and training. The Youth Initiative focuses on providing activities for young people aged 11 to 19, including a Bible study night on Tuesdays, Girls On the Move program on Wednesdays, and a open night Fridays for teens to hang out in a positive and safe environment.

“I was a high school counsellor, and I’d ask kids what there was to do on a Friday night, and they’d say, ‘Hello, Jim, it’s Swift Current. There’s nothing to do except party’”, Magee said. This prompted The Centerto provide the space for teens to meet on the weekends: kids from grades six to eight are welcome from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays; The Center is open for those in grades nine to 12 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Magee said they’re checked at the door to ensure they haven’t consumed alcohol and aren’t sneaking any into the facility. Around 275 kids would attend The Center on Friday nights during the school year, and Magee said they would like to extend those hours to include Saturday nights as well.

The new mural, Magee said, is just another way to involve youth in The Center, and increase its welcoming atmosphere for Swift Current’s youth.

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