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Helping unleash creativity in kids

Under the leadership of Lydia Mays, teens at the Covenant House center for homeless youth paint a mural to beautify their residence.

BY: Mickey Goodman

Children’s book author and illustrator Lydia Mays of Buckhead has been volunteering with Paint Love for the last five years. The local 501(c)(3) partners with Title I schools and youth-oriented nonprofits to bring opportunities for selfexpression to kids who have experienced trauma, loss or extreme poverty. “Because their schools lack funding, the kids we work with need creative outlets the most but have the least access,” says Paint Love’s executive director Laura Shaw. “We want to empower them to imagine a future that’s not limited by these experiences.”


Recently, Mays helped residents at the Covenant House Georgia for homeless youth create a mural at the facility. “[Artists] Casey O’Connell and Lindsay Ryden outlined the mural, and the teens applied the paint,” she says. “When I asked them how it made them feel, one said, ‘I feel like I contributed to something beautiful that will always have a place at Covenant House and makes it seem like home.’”

The projects are planned and executed by volunteer artists. Each is designed with a specific group of kids in mind so the students can leave with some sense of healing. “The conversations kids have with one another while they’re working on art projects is also part of the process,” says Mays. “They lift one another up.”

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