Working with Youth


The intent is to work within the school district.

The Madison Mural Program engages at-risk students through project-based learning so as to help increase school attendance. Educators from Prairie Phoenix Academy in Sun Prairie and the SAIL Program at West High School have told us that their data shows increased attendance for students participating in our mural activities.

We will continue to work with neighborhood centers, neighborhood associations, after-school programs and summer programs. School / neighborhood partnerships such as our recent one with Leopold Neighborhood Association and Leopold Elementary School  which resulted in a painted mural fence and mosaic stepping stones for the community gardens at Leopold Park, will increase.

We intend to devise simple pre- and post- tests which will show positive outcomes for participating youth. We hope to partner with UW School of Education in this endeavor. We currently have service learning students from the UW Service Learning in the Arts class placed with us. We have also been working with the UW Educational Outreach & Partnership Program for years, offering mural making opportunities to College for Kids, Art & Technology, Latino Youth Summit and students from other EOP programs.


A curriculum will be developed that focuses on working with youth to reach their potential.

We will welcome community members to work alongside youth in creating murals – in fact, we will actively seek community participation. We will train community members so that they have realistic perspectives when working with youth. We will make sure that they understand the importance of appropriate boundaries, but of equal importance, the need to find the goodness in every child. We will use a trauma-informed approach, emphasizing the stages to build resiliency. Training will include topics such as: what to do about disclosures of abuse and neglect, how to use open-ended questions to allow youth to talk about their lives while painting, de-escalating volatile situations, and why the arts are particularly useful for making a difference in anyone’s life.

The goal is to eventually develop a curriculum that uses best practice in the field of trauma-informed care of children, with a particular emphasis on using the arts to build resiliency. Sharon Kilfoy, Williamson Street Art Center director, has written a curriculum for crisis care of children for Madison’s Respite Center, a 24-hour emergency crisis center for kids, where she was program manager for 15 years. She also developed the training program for all child care specialists and volunteers providing direct care to kids. What Sharon learned about at-risk kids during her 26 years at Center for Families will be incorporated into the Madison Mural Program arts-based curriculum.

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