Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2016 – Youth Volunteerism Creates Strength

Name: Shameekia Johnson
From: Manhattan, New York
Grade: Highschool Senior to College Freshman
School: Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY)
Votes: 10

When I was a junior in high school, I attended an art school that introduced me to an art program called, Groundswell. Groundswell is a
non-profit community based art program that helps teens create murals to interact a form of change or expand their art skills improving
their chances of getting into an art college. I choose a program like Groundswell it to help me with my art skills and to empower other
people. A group of us girls would meet every Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday from May to June. Since the project was based in the transformation/reconstruction of a blank wall in the neighborhood of Brownsville it was decided to make it related to the women of that neighborhood. The other volunteers and I thought of how the women of Brownsville objectified to the harsh neighborhood,and brainstormed how to empower them. We worked in teams and presented different ideas and planned how to execute the wall. Once we started to paint the wall we each had a section to complete so it could all come together as one big picture. One of the biggest challenges were to work in the hot sun which drained most of our energy and being able to paint the faces while having it come out correctly. Out of everything I had contributed I was satisfied with how well the mural turned out as well as to work with other amazing girls that could help be apart of something that was by us and for us. I learned how well females could come together to uplift and empower each other. In this society, females often set each other apart in competition and try to rip each other apart, through mere jealousy. Instead of allocating hate, we should empower each other and love ourselves enough to be secure in our own bodies. To me, forward looking means to have an eye on the prize, to eventually have a goal that relates to jobs worked.
Volunteering for Groundswell related to the career I want in the fashion industry through things like fashion illustration, painting
and drawing is about the same–one is just using paint. So having those kinds of skills could help if I want to be creative director of
a famous company and being able to produce my ideas better. Based on what I learned from Groundswell, I could use more creative ways for things like community activism. To talk about important matters like the disadvantages of the poor and social crisis’ the caused the development the Black Lives Matter Movement. All of which could be able to get more voices heard, and change the perspective of others. Years from now, if the mural is still there, and not painted over or vandalised, I hope it inspires the next generation of women to be more than the stereotype—to be more in general. (Here’s the link to the website where the mural is shown:

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