WILKES-BARRE — The underground tunnel connecting the Luzerne County Courthouse to the other side of the Pierce Street bridge got a little more colorful Friday thanks to children from the McGlynn Learning Center.
The children spent the morning painting a mural there, as part of a summer program offered by the center.
The donation-funded center has two sites, serving city youth from the low-income housing developments Boulevard Townhomes and Mineral Springs Village. The center offers after-school tutoring and recreational and cultural activities at no cost to students, according to its website.
Sister Elizabeth Brody, assistant director of the McGlynn Center who teaches at the Mineral Springs Village site, said the July program is meant to be a safe place where the children can maintain the skills they developed during the school year.
Children enrolled in the program, Brody said, spend Monday through Thursday doing two hours each of math and reading. The center also takes the students on field trips during the week.
“We try to do fun things with them, because a lot of them might not get the chance to,” Brody said, saying they sometimes take the kids swimming and bowling early in the week, and on educational trips every Thursday.
The mural was part of what the center calls “Fine Arts Friday.” In past years, children have done different art projects with the Wilkes-Barre Art League plus some music-recording projects.
This year, they are working on the mural with the Verve Vertu Art Studio, of Dallas.
“I’m all about community projects and getting many people involved,” said Gwen Harleman, director of the art studio. She said Luzerne County Judge Jennifer Rogers approached her about livening up the tunnel.
“It needed to be beautified. There were so many responses from people coming through that it needed some color, they need something happy,” she said.
Harleman explained that several groups are working on the project.
“The artists I work with, who are artists with emotional, physical and intellectual challenges, helped with the design and execution,” Harleman explained. It is the children’s job to fill in the outlines every Friday.
Harleman said the first day was rather chaotic, but they were able to get back on track.
“I didn’t understand that a lot of children never had exposure to paint, so they really didn’t know how to use it,” she said.
Nine-year-old Ciera Winborne is no stranger to painting. She said she spends a lot of time coloring and drawing, and her mother passed the talent down to her.
“My favorite part is the flower,” she said of the mandala pattern she was working on with her classmates, which had a flower in the center.
Cup of green paint in hand, she said with shining eyes that she loves the learning center, and is very excited for a trip to Knoebels they will take in August, about two weeks before her 10th birthday.