Contributed by: Emma Smith
I have been in Girl Scouts for the past 10 years. I began as a Daisy in first grade, and now as a high school junior, I am a Girl Scout Ambassador, and my last challenge in Girl Scouts is to earn my Girl Scout Gold Award. For my Gold Award project, I designed and painted a mural at the Monroe County Visitation Center. The issue that my project addressed is foster children. Monroe County has approximately 470 children ages birth to 21 currently in foster care. Many of these children must use the Monroe County Visitation Center in order to have visits with their parents and families. The Visitation Center has approximately 1,500 supervised visits every month. I chose this project because I love art, it’s my hobby, what I plan to major in when I go to college, and for my future career. The design of this mural is the “Freddie-Sue” (Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony) Bridge in downtown Rochester, with the city skyline, the Genesee River and a peregrine falcon like the ones that nest on top of buildings downtown to hatch their eggs. I thought of this design because I felt that having something the children who are coming to the Visitation Center would recognize, as well as the adults, would make it more significant and enjoyable for them.
This project required me to complete many steps and to go outside of my comfort zone. I had to do research about foster care in Monroe County and about how to paint a mural. I had never painted something so large before! Then I had to connect with staff at SPCC, the Monroe County DHS, Girl Scouts of Western NY and other professionals, complete and submit my proposal with designs and get approval to paint in a County building. I used the money I had earned selling Girl Scout cookies over the past ten years to fund my project and purchase the supplies I needed. Then there was the painting itself, which I did over a four day period. I enjoyed seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids who were at the Visitation Center while I was working, and answering their questions about my mural. All in all, I have spent over 80 hours on this project!
During the process of painting this mural I felt like I was putting my talents and experience to good use, and I hope the children and adults at the Visitation Center will enjoy the mural just as much as I enjoyed creating it.