Up the Wall youth bring beauty to the Beltline

By carlynn

This summer, a group of youth in our Up the Wall program helped to beautify the Beltline neighbourhood in downtown Calgary. The result? Incredibly unique and eye-catching to anyone passing by! 

On the weekend of August 9, 2014, after weeks of designing and planning, the first group of youth to go through Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary’s Up the Wall program gave back to the City of Calgary by painting a wall mural downtown (on Centre Street SE, between 13 and 14 Avenue).

The youth in the program worked with many professional artists who not only mentored them, but taught theMural5m what it takes to work in collaboration with other artists and to create a large piece of public art. The feedback from the surrounding community was wonderful, with many residents walking by, thanking the youth for making a once ugly, often vandalized wall, beautiful. 

The mural features a space theme that was developed by the youth, with the underlying idea that we are all connected: “It doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are, or what you do, we are all the same and deserve to be treated that way.” 

Up the Wall is a restorative justice program for youth graffiti offenders, who are referred to the program through law enforcement services. Over the course of three months, these youth participate in various restorative justice-based activities, interact with members of law enforcement to encourage building healthy relationships, and work with professional artists to learn new skills and find new, legal, positive ways of expressing themselves. Upon completion of the program, qualified graduates are invited back as peer mentors for future youth in the program. 

Members of Up the Wall are incredibly proud of the work they created, and so they should be! The hard work, dedication and enthusiasm put into this work of art is something to be recognized. The youth completing this program have gone through a lot of positive change, and truly found a place of belonging and community.

“I really miss it and can’t wait for the next group to start so that I can come back as a peer mentor.” - Up the Wall graduate, 16 years old.

“I got to participate in legal public art, which I didn’t think I would ever do. I have a different outlook now on vandalism in Calgary.”  - Up the Wall graduate, 18 years old.