For the second consecutive summer, Portland Public Health's Tobacco Prevention team was proud to serve as a host site for Gateway to Opportunity (G2O), a summer program coordinated through Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN). The objective of G2O is to develop local high school students’ career skills while partnering them with a host site to lead a community-focused project. For the past six weeks, Portland’s youth team has been curating and navigating the logistics of creating a mural in Woodfords Corner that promotes clean air and tobacco-free communities.
During the program, the Portland team participated in weekly career workshops with other sites around Maine to learn about and practice resume building, interviewing, and navigating their future careers. The Portland G2O team also worked on a series of their own projects, met with community partners, and were encouraged to explore their interests. From tobacco education and becoming trained in the peer support program Sidekicks, to meeting with neighborhood associations and volunteering, to ultimately designing and creating a mural with a professional muralist, the 2021 Portland G2O team has had a busy summer!
Program coordinator, Kirsten Goodrich, stated “By providing opportunities to create something they are proud of, Portland Public Health and MYAN has aimed to help participants develop deeper connections to their communities. Further, supporting and empowering Maine’s youth plays an important role in encouraging substance-free lifestyles.” The public art project was chosen specifically because murals are a non-punitive deterrent for graffiti. Since 2016, Portland has effectively used murals to curb graffiti at various utility boxes throughout the city.
Thank you to Jared Goulette (“The Color Wizard”), the professional muralist who mentored Portland’s team about professional art, how to conceptualize their idea, and how to create the mural itself. Thank you to Goulding Chiropractic for donating the mural space at 12 Revere Street in Portland, Maine. Lastly, thank you to MaineHealth’s Center for Tobacco Independence for funding this youth-led project.
On Friday, August 27 at 1:00 PM, the Portland-based team will be showcasing the mural they created and will welcome friends, family, community partners, local businesses, and any supporters of youth-led projects to attend this physically distanced, mask-encouraged event. We look forward to viewing and celebrating 2021 Portland G2O’s accomplishments. For more information on the event please continue to visit our Portland Public Health Division Facebook Page.