April 27, 2018

Community-wide mural project promotes area collaboration and youth engagement by Lorraine Glowczak

The official ribbon cutting ceremony at Windham Middle School. The mural will be at the middle school until the end of May. Where it goes next is a mystery to be solved.
Windham Middle School was the host of the Be The Influence (BTI) Coalition’s Mural Project ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday April 24 at 7:30 a.m. The event was a celebration to launch a community-wide mural project that engaged youth from the RSU#14 district. The mural, which will remain at the middle school until May 31st, will move to various locations around the towns of Windham and Raymond.
The mission of the BTI Coalition is to promote community collaboration and positive choices in
reducing youth substance misuse and that was the sole purpose of the mural, both the creation of it as well as its journey around the two towns.
BTI students throughout the district all had an opportunity to paint the five feet long mural with the first portion of its artwork beginning at Windham Middle School traveling to Jordan Small Middle  
School and Raymond Library and spending a short visit to the Windham High School.
“In an effort to create a youth project that used the arts in prevention, the goal of the mural project was not only to educate the community on the dangers of substance misuse, but to successfully engage youth of all interests and abilities and give them something that they will see throughout their community and know that they contributed to something meaningful,” stated BTI Director, Laura Morris.  “Many teachers have commented that it attracted some students that don’t usually participate in other activities and youth engagement is one of the key factors in finding alternatives to drugs.”
https://www.egcu.org/auto“The purpose of the mural is to try to make a better environment for kids,” began Danielle Meader a student at Windham High School who participated in the project and was at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Another student, Logan Cropper, also participated in the mural project and attended the ribbon cutting ceremony stated that he enjoyed being a part of the school collaboration. “It was a cool way to collaborate and work together on a project that provides a symbol of what BTI is working towards.”
The event included an official ribbon cutting ceremony by the Sebago Lake Chamber of Commerce and included attendees from the BTI Coalition stakeholders, students and school leaders.
“We wanted a formal launch of the mural, so that the youth would appreciate the importance of their efforts and that they deserve to be recognized for helping to making a difference in our community,”
says Morris.
Officer Matt Cyr, the Middle School Resource and Officer who was one of the founding members of BTI, also attended the ceremony. He hopes that this project will provide the much needed discussions among students, their parents and the community regarding substance use and abuse. “My hope with this mural project is that it creates discussion surrounding the need for a drug and alcohol-free community,” Cyr stated. “We all need to team up – the students, parents and the community – to accomplish this.”
Where the mural goes next is a mystery. “Follow us on the Be The Influence Facebook page and guess where you think the mural will go next,” Morris told the students after the ribbon cutting ceremony. “If you guess correctly, your name will be put in a drawing with the potential of winning prizes.”

All members of the community can join in on the fun and discussion by following where the mural lands next month on the Be The Influence Facebook page.

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