Extending a mural that was completed over a decade ago on the facade of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Michelle Ortiz has been working with students at Kensington CAPA and Edison/Fareira High School to create a new project called “Power of Positivity”. This project focuses on maintaining a positive outlook in the face of adversity and conflict. Ortiz led conversations and workshops with students focusing on eliciting the positive components of the problems we face. Many students participating in the project are forced to navigate neighborhood drug trafficking on their way to and from school. This problem, combined with the other issues plaguing low-income communities, and the recent nationwide awareness of police brutality in communities of color creates a climate difficult for young people to learn and grow. Through intentional conversations, mindfulness workshops,and art-making, Ortiz channeled students’ concerns into the mural. She had the youth concentrate on what they celebrate in their lives rather than what adversely affects them. This shift in thinking has allowed students to better understand the complexities of life and how to have agency in the choices they make. The mural also celebrates Congreso’s longstanding presence in North Philadelphia as haven, and a place to learn and grow.
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