HOPE Mural’s Founder Talks Creative Expression for Miami Dade Juvenile Detention Centers

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This Bronx native and professional educator has dedicated his career to developing youth, families, and communities. German DuBois III is continuing his philanthropic work with the creation of his non-profit, HOPE Murals, which provides adolescent youth, who are currently detained at the Miami Dade County Juvenile Detention Center, with an interactive experience of creative expression via an urban arts visual platform. Check out our interview with Mr. DuBois as he talks more about Hope Murals.

Why did you create Hope Murals?

HOPE Murals was created to provide an artistic platform to engage under-served youth considered to be “At-risk” with an opportunity to discover and learn the power of SELF-EFFICACY, by conceptualizing, planning, preparing and completing a mural. Often youth are encouraged to establish goals, but little is done to teach them how to “strategize” and execute their goals accordingly. Hope Murals seeks to leverage the power of art to impact their lives by instilling the values of Hope and Perseverance as critical life skills to their success.

German DuBois III, Founder of HOPE Murals

What project is Hope Murals currently working on?

HOPE Murals is currently facilitating program services at the Miami Dade County Regional Juvenile Detention Center in collaboration with the State Department of Juvenile Justice and Miami Dade County Public Schools. We work closely with the administration to identify a group of youth every month to participate in the creation and completion of a mural within the walls of the facility. Our program model spans over four weeks, and a new mural is completed per month. HOPE Murals has completed 8 murals to date. There are enough walls throughout the facility to facilitate murals over the next two years.

Why are creativity and art skills so important for our youth?

Art serves as a natural platform for youth to take safe risks, by exploring their creative side without being threatened by the judgment of others or fearing failure. The HOPE Murals model encourages the youth to creatively express their ideas derived from their life experiences and challenges them to envision a future filled with dreams and hopes of better tomorrow.

Do you see a difference in the kids from when they first participate too when they have been participating for a while?

The youth who participate in the HOPE Murals project are impacted immediately. They are engaged from day one in critical discussions that challenge them to reflect on their decisions/choices, both past, and present, as we embark upon the journey to understand the relevance of maintaining HOPE and discovering the power of self-efficacy. We hold youth accountable for their actions week to week and remind them that they are expected to conduct themselves accordingly, so they can continue to participate and complete the mural. Administrators, officers, teachers, and staff at the Juvenile Detention Center have all commented on the changes in behavior and outlook of those youth who complete the program model. We also encourage the youth to contact HOPE Murals upon their release from the JDC and offer general transitional support.

Why is working with arts and culture organizations that support youth so important to you?

Many of the youth we serve live in difficult circumstances, struggle with severe poverty and experience high rates of violence. Faced with these challenges daily, often leaves them with little hope of a successful life beyond the bars. In many instances, the programming of HOPE Murals is their only engagement with positive adults that encourage them to think, plan and execute a strategy for personal success. Working with other arts and cultural organizations is not only necessary, but strategic as we leverage each other’s resources to have the greatest collective impact with the youth we serve.

What inspires you every day?

I’ve worked in education non-profit organizations for over 20 years and have witnessed first hand how access to quality educational programming, lead by committed staff that offer positive youth development, can impact a child’s life and inspire them to be their best. I believe serving youth who are disadvantaged and under-served, and often forgotten is my calling, and that is inspirational enough.

Learn more about HOPE Mural here.

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