One of my main goals, for the Dar Chebab (youth center) where I work, is to aid in making it a more welcoming place for kids. Upon arriving to Azrou and visiting my Dar Chebab for the first time I didn’t walk away with the youthful energy that one might expect to find at a ‘youth center’. The rooms were empty, the walls were white and stained, and even worse… there were no youth.
Since then, the attendance has grown and I have started a number of different clubs and classes. This wasn’t easy at first, with only a small following of about 3 to 5 youth coming to class. But as friends told friends and parents told parents my class sizes grew. Now I have between 20 and 30 students when I show up to the Dar Chebab gate.
After a number of meetings with my mudira (Dar Chebab director) it was agreed that there needed to be something more than just my classes getting youth to come to the center. While this may be good for the time being, I will not be in Azrou forever, and therefore things need to be more sustainable.
We decided (much to my excitement) that creating murals would be both useful for the Dar Chebab and have an impact on the youth. By allowing the youth to have a key role in the implementation of the murals they not only take something away from the ideas behind the images but also gain a sense of pride in their Dar Chebab.
The first mural’s theme was ‘Peace and Friendship’ and it was created on the main wall of my classroom. The mudira and the youth all stated ideas of what they wanted to see on this mural and I compiled the ideas together to make one image.
Once the ‘Peace and Friendship’ mural was complete we began on a second mural with the theme of ‘Community’. This mural didn’t start with one design. Instead it is layered with different colors and small images. I started by allowing the younger kids to paint the base. This allowed them to use colors and brush strokes freely (no mess ups!!) . Then the older youth painted more defining images over that. Finally, as a group, we painted children from around the world as the overall focal point.
The youth seem to be really happy with what they have created and it has made the Dar Chebab look so much brighter!