WALLINGFORD — For several weeks, Michele Urban has come to work at the Ulbrich Boys and Girls Club and been inundated with kids begging her for permission for what may be most caregivers’ worst nightmare: covering the wall in paint.
After about a month of cleaning paint off the floor, members at Ulbrich have nearly finished the mural they’ve been painting alongside Urban, an artist and musician who was inspired to lead the mural’s creation when she first walked through the club’s doors and was greeted by a blank yellow wall.
“I just knew it would be something that would be fun for all ages,” Urban said. She began working at the club in late September, going there after teaching music lessons at local schools and libraries.
With members from third grade to high school working on the project, creating a painting allows children of all ages to express themselves and not have to worry about mistakes, Urban said.
“We want that mess, we want everyone’s footprint up there,” she added. Urban said that some of the youngest kids have surprised her with their excitement and talent.
The mural features silhouetted figures playing soccer and basketball, accompanied by words including “music, love and inspiring,” and smaller details, such as a unicorn, cartoon character and game controllers. Most of the 65 children who regularly go to the club contributed.
“As a collaborative project (they) were able to create something amazing,” Urban said.
While the children have been the driving force behind the painting, the staff and one mom joined in.
“It’s just fun and it gives you a chance to stand out,” said Madison Brauch, 10, of Wallingford. She said that her favorite part of the mural was the rainbow arcing through the painting, and that the Boys and Girls Club symbol, two blue intertwined hands, is the most special.
“Walking into the boys and girls club every day and seeing this mural is really inspiring,” said Club Executive Director Megan Lenzzo.
Standing next to the nearly-complete mural Thursday morning, Lenzzo said the final product can be viewed at the club’s annual Breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning. From 8:30 to 11 a.m., Santa will be at the club enjoying a buffet breakfast and taking photos with kids. Children will also be able to decorate ornaments, enter a raffle and pick out a free toy.
The value of the mural, Lenzzo said, is that it gives the children something of their own at the club, something they created and can see every day.
“It gives them a sense of ownership,” Lenzzo said. “They get to express themselves.”