Young Artists from Jamaica Tackle High School Dropout Crisis with Mural

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on July 23, 2014 12:00pm 

 A sketch for the Jamaica NeON Arts project.
A sketch for the Jamaica NeON Arts project.
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Groundswell

QUEENS — A group of young artists who are on probation will paint a mural at a local Jamaica school to encourage students not to drop out before they graduate, organizers said.

The project, initiated by Groundswell, a New York City-based nonprofit that promotes murals among young people, will be painted at PS/IS 116 William C. Hughley on Wren Place.

The venture is organized in collaboration with Jamaica NeON and the New York City Department of Probation, which chose some of the young artists from among teens who are currently on probation, according to Groundswell.

About 15 young artists from the area, ages 14 to 24, will work on the mural. They will be paid for their work through Groundswell’s employment initiative, the organizers said.

The group will work on the mural, which will focus on the neighborhood's high dropout rate, the organizers said. Jamaica High School, for instance, was recently closed partially because the school's graduation rates remained around or below 50 percent for more than a decade.

The teens will get a chance to learn new skills, earn some money, “give back to their community and create public artwork which positively benefits" the neighborhood, said Sharon Polli of Groundswell.

They will also “give voice to disconnected youth in South Jamaica in an effort to combat the high school dropout crisis,” the organization wrote in an email.

Groundswell, which has created nearly 500 murals over the past 18 years, will also work on seven more murals in other neighborhoods this summer, collaborating with other city agencies.

Each mural will feature a different theme that reflects issues specific to the area.

The group in Jamaica will present their preliminary sketches to the community on Wednesday, July 23, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the mural location.

On July 31, locals will be able to join the group during a “community painting day" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The mural, which will be painted at 107-25 Wren Place, is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 15.

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