Reporter: Kate Dengg
The YES club, an after school and summer program for local kids, has added a beautiful new addition to their building in downtown Newark.
Over the week, about 20 kids from the YES club came together to paint a mural on the side of their building, highlighting the importance of solar energy.
The project started three years ago when Richard Downs of Licking County Concerned Citizens for Public Health noticed that YES club’s roof was “perfect for solar panels.”
Over the course of two and a half months, roughly $24,000 was raised. Forty-two solar panels, which are predicted to last from 25 to 30 years, were subsequently added to the YES club’s building. According to Carol Apacki from the Concerned Citizens committee, the money the YES Club saves on electricity can be invested directly back to the kids.
The goal of this project was not just to bring solar power to Newark but also raise awareness on this and other clean forms energy. So, the idea of crafting a mural was born.
Kids at the YES Club were asked to draw pictures that they believe represented solar energy. Those pictures were then formed into a single piece by California artist, Gayel Childress. Childress has traveled from Mexico to Mayan villages to Haiti on similar missions, but she spent the last week here in Newark helping the kids bring their ideas to life.
“You never know who you are going to touch with art,” said Childress, as to the importance of this piece.
While Childress, as well as a number of volunteers, were present for the week-long painting spree, it was the kids doing much of the painting themselves.
“The kids were absolutely amazing,” said Tracee Laing, from Healing Art Missions, who spent the week working with the young painters. “This project is something they will be able to take pride in.”
The YES club is one of the few locations in Newark to have solar panels installed. They hope by raising awareness other businesses and organizations will follow in their footsteps.