Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan continues to promote unity through art with its most recently sponsored project, a vibrant mural created by local youth, which was unveiled recently at the Avalon Carver Community Center in South Los Angeles.
More than 20 local youth helped create and install the mural on the community center. It was the final project of “Rise to Resilience,” a 12-week art therapy program led by Resilient Agency, a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth development in communities impacted by violence.
The 5-foot by 30-foot mural was designed in collaboration with Los Angeles muralist Eric Walker, also known as Cre8. With Walker’s guidance, the students helped design and paint the mural, which captures their strength, vision for their community, and personal aspirations – all aimed at inspiring young people in their community to reach their goals and live a healthy life, while promoting unity and solidarity.
“For youth who have been impacted by gang violence and poverty, life can be extraordinarily challenging,“ said James Cruz, M.D., chief medical officer at Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan. “At Blue Shield Promise, we support community programs like this because we believe that it is vital for youth to have access to healthy programs and safe spaces that can improve their overall well-being.”
“Creating this mural with students my age gave me the chance to help make this community center better than it already is,” said Marnea, age 15. “This program has helped me grow, and it’s exciting that others will see the work that I helped paint in my community.”
“Rise to Resilience” weekly classes included support from a Resilient Agency’s behavioral health professional, Steven Pineda. Discussions with youth covered topics such as artistic empowerment, storytelling, and therapeutic art.
“Blue Shield Promise’s sponsorship made it possible for students to connect with people their own age in a safe space, where they could talk about their challenges and goals. This is priceless,” said Michael Guedel, executive director for Resilient Agency. “They each took a lot of pride in creating this mural and it was a great creative outlet for them that will forever showcase their strength.”
Katrina Manning, community engagement manager for Blue Shield Promise, presented the students with a certificate at the mural unveiling, honoring their work.
“My hope is that our participants’ resiliency remains strong, and that they stay committed to community empowerment, personal growth, and health equity,” said Pineda. “I’m proud to have worked with them because their work not only enhances this center, but also encourages beautification and excellence throughout our entire South L.A. community.“
Marnea receives certificate from Blue Shield Promise Community Engagement Manager Katrina Manning
Muralist Eric Walker aka Cre8