Youth from Listening Ear Transitional Living Program Honored for Winning Mural Contest

Debbie Powell honors Listening Ear for winning the 2011 FYSB Mural Contest.(photo taken by John Lingan, NCFY: left to right, Debbie Powell, Ben Warner, Brad Vavzincak, Hannah Rohrer)

Acting Associate Commissioner Debbie Powell presented a plaque to the winners of the first annual Family and Youth Services Bureau Runway and Homeless Youth Mural Contest at the National Runaway and Homeless Youth 2011 FYSB Grantee Conference in Portland, OR.

“By promoting youth engagement through initiatives like our mural contest, we give youth the opportunity to make a lasting mark on their communities,” Powell said. “At the same time, we are telling them: You matter. Your ideas matter. Your thoughts matter. Your voice matters.”

Youth from Listening Ear Crisis Center in Mt. Pleasant, MI, submitted the winning idea in the contest. Their design vividly expressed their feelings about Listening Ear’s transitional living program, which youth say changed their lives. As winners of the contest, they received the art supplies to make their design a reality.

“The youth wanted to design a mural that represented what these programs have done for them, as well as how the services provided can be beneficial to other youth in the community,” said Brad Vavzincak, Listening Ear’s case manager.

FYSB launched the mural contest after visiting with a group of young people at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, DC, last year. The young men told Bureau representatives that a youth-designed mural in the common area made them feel at home during an insecure and chaotic time in their lives.

FYSB thinks all youth should experience that sense of belonging. So the Bureau sponsored a nationwide contest to create more murals. A panel of young adults from several FYSB-funded transitional living programs, along with FYSB staff, picked the winner from six fantastic design ideas.

FYSB encourages its Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grantees to enter the 2012 contest. Application guidelines are on the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth website.