Foster Youth to Unveil Mural for New Castle County Courthouse

WILMINGTON, DE (September 22, 2014) — Tomorrow at 4:30 pm, foster care youth will unveil a large mural to be displayed at the New Castle County Courthouse. The mural will brighten the spaces most commonly seen by children and youth who come to the court for custody hearings, dependency and neglect hearings, and other proceedings relating to foster care placement. Over 30 foster youth participated in painting the mural, which provided a meaningful summer activity which built art skills, experience in a team environment, built confidence, and exposed the youth to approximately 40 caring adults. Speakers at the unveiling ceremony will include Family Court of Delaware Chief Judge Chandlee Kuhn and Division of Family Services Director Victoria Kelly.

The project was administered by the Delaware Center for Justice’s Delaware Youth Opportunities Initiative, and worked in tandem with The Delaware Youth Advisory Council, a youth-led group of current and former foster youth. The commemorative mural will be installed on the second floor of Family Court at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. The mural was painted and artistically guided by youth who are currently or who have formerly experienced foster care, and will serve to inspire hope and encourage those youth involved in family court.

Artist John Donato was chosen by the Youth Advisory Council to help the young people develop and create the mural. Mr. Donato, who has previously worked with the Youth Advisory Council on murals for the Kent and Sussex Family Courthouses, brings a wealth of creativity and experience to the New Castle County Family Court Mural Project.

The mural unveiling will take place on September 23, 2014 promptly at 4:30 pm at the New Castle County Courthouse. Funding for the project was provided by The Arsht-Cannon Fund and The Delaware Bar Foundation, with additional support from the law firm Richards, Layton and Finger.
The mural will be dedicated in honor of both Carl Schnee Esq., a former U.S. Attorney for Delaware and a long-time foster youth advocate, and Judge Roxana Arsht, the first female judge in the state of Delaware who passed away in 2003. Both Carl Schnee and Judge Arsht have acted as tireless advocates for the rights of at-risk youth in Delaware.

Family Court of Delaware Chief Judge Chandlee Johnson Kuhn said, “The Family Court is grateful for the work of many who helped develop this project, including Judge Barbara Crowell and the Delaware Center for Justice. We are most thankful, however, for the young artists who are committing their time and talent to make this project a reality. We honor Carl Schnee with this mural as he has been a longtime champion of our Delaware youth and was among the individuals that brought the Delaware Youth Opportunities Initiative to Delaware. We also honor Judge Roxana Arsht who was the first female Judge in the State of Delaware. She was not only a trailblazer in the Court room, but also in her everyday life. She made the lives of innumerable children in Delaware better. We look forward to the unveiling of the mural.”

The Delaware Youth Opportunities Initiative works, through outreach and advocacy, to improve policies and practices for youth aging out of foster care. The mural project is a positive activity for the youth that can improve their productivity, mentality and outlook. Every year, 80 youth age out of foster care in Delaware alone. Nationally, 20,000 youth age out of foster care annually.
Individuals wishing to attend the unveiling may contact Delaware Center for Justice Executive Director Joanna Champney at jchampney@dcjustice.org.