Greenpoint Gazette
Greenpoint based artist Sek3 along with over 50 North Brooklyn high school students as part of NURTUREart's program to beautify the Eastern District YMCA. PHOTO CREDIT: Lola Sherwood

North Brooklyn Youth Take Neighborhood Makeover Into Own Hands

BY Tanay Warerkar

More than 50 North Brooklyn students gathered at the Eastern District YMCA on Humboldt Street to spruce up the long-serving community resource.

But it wasn’t just any kind of makeover.

Students worked with Greenpoint-based street artist Sek3, the founder and president of West Street art and performance space, Succulent Studios, to create a mural incorporating the four core tenets of YMCA’s principals – honesty, respect, responsibility, and caring.

To prepare for their partnership with Sek3, the students spent a year in an educational program run by local non-profit arts organization NURTUREart, with support from the urban youth organization buildOn, which encourages neighborhood youth to transform their surroundings through community service.

Once they had completed their arts training, the students, representing seven schools took part in a community painting day. Among the participating schools were Enterprise Business and Technology, Progress High School, The School for Legal Studies – all part of the Grand Street High School Campus; High School for Public Service; School for Democracy and Leadership; Williamsburg Charter High School; and the Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn.

But first, the budding teen artists had to prepare the surrounding area, by cleaning and picking up garbage – all part of their sprucing up efforts.

“It’s lovely to see the kids getting involved in the community this way,” said Sek3. “It’s an extremely rewarding experience.”

The students worked for over five hours completing the mural – which incorporated the YMCA’s motto both in English and Spanish, with the words flowing out of trees that the students spray painted along with the artist. They also stenciled leaves to give the finishing touches to the project.

“It’s a great way to connect underserved youth and create art for the community,” said Molly O’Brien, the education director at NURTUREart. “It’s a nice way for students to do community service and it gives them responsibility and ownership.”

For more information on NURTUREart visit http://nurtureart.org and to learn more about Sek3 and his work visit http://www.succbk.com

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