#NextGen: Duwamish Valley Youth Corps
A mural project helps young people learn about environmentalism
July 10, 2019
Read this story and more in Volume 6 (pdf) of Seattle Foundation's Heart & Science magazine.
On a Saturday morning in South Park, 16 high school
students painted leaping salmon in a meandering river of
vivid blues and greens on the wall of a massive concrete
building next to the Duwamish
Waterway Park. These members
of the Duwamish Valley Youth
Corps are beautifying their
neighborhood park with a
mural, while learning about
environmental issues like
climate justice and green careers.
Paulina Lopez, executive director of the Duwamish River
Cleanup Coalition, which runs the youth program, said at
the start of the program the kids didn’t talk about climate
justice. “But now, they understand that together,
they have power through their voice. We want
to acknowledge the voice they have as current
leaders but also as future decision-makers,”
Friends Elisa Antonio and Deysi Olivera take pride in the
painting, designed by Native artist Robert Fernandez,
and the tree planting the youth corps has done in the
community. “Once you’re here a while, you think
that the Duwamish is just a river. This river helps
the economy, and it’s also an environmental
connection to this place,” said Antonio, 14.
Olivera, 14, said the mural tells the story of how the river
was once free flowing and filled with salmon, beavers
and birds, before being straightened and harnessed by
industry. In the third section of the mural, the Duwamish
once more takes its natural, curvilinear form and returns
to a healthy ecosystem.
“It’s life changing for me. It changed my whole
mindset and career path. I want to be involved
with the environment,” said Olivera of the Youth
Corps which is supported by grants from the City of
Seattle. “I want this for my kid."
Heart & Science Magazine
Read Heat & Science magazine Vol. 6 for more on how philanthropists, community organizations and Seattle Foundation are working to create a healthy community through supporting the environment and arts & culture.
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