By Kelsey Ryan
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Ashley Peacock, a Joplin High School freshman, slowly painted the image of a tree Wednesday as part of a new mural at the Boys & Girls Club, 317 S. Comingo Ave.
Peacock is one of nine Joplin teens participating this week in Pass: Times Partnerships, a civic and leadership program out of Galveston, Texas.
“I’m hoping it sends the message to the kids that no matter what we’ve been through, that we will rebuild and thrive, and show them we can unite and make things happen,” Peacock said.
The mural features an airplane with a banner that says “Strength, Hope, and Courage.” Also depicted are two trees, one damaged and one undamaged, that represent Joplin before and after the May 22 tornado.
“We thought if we spent a few days, we could connect with the teenagers here and do what we did there (Galveston) and give them an opportunity to feel a sense of ownership and have a sense of pride in what they’ve done, and be able to reflect on the process of rebuilding,” said Marianne Pascal Beerstecher. She is the founding director of Pass: Times Partnerships, which stands for Promote Active Student Service through Teaching, Inspiring, Modeling, Empowering and Supporting Partnerships.
Pass: Times started in Galveston after Hurricane Ike in 2008. Earlier this year, students from Ball Prep Academy made 1,000 purple and yellow paper cranes through the project to send hope to another city that had survived a disaster: Joplin.
On Wednesday morning, the paper cranes were delivered to the ninth- and 10th-grade campus at Memorial Education Center.
“When the students this year felt Galveston had recovered to the point they could do outreach, the students picked Joplin because it’s a town of about the same size as Galveston, and the students were very touched the Joplin High was damaged in the tornado,” Beerstecher said.
Earlier in the week, Joplin teens volunteered to read to elementary schoolchildren as part of the local project. About 420 books were donated from Scholastic Inc. to the library at the Boys & Girls Club, and Penguin Books donated 213 books for the children to take home.
Beerstecher said the program is becoming a nonprofit organization, and she hopes to continue it in other communities in the country.
THE CHILDREN also were given packets of bluebonnet seeds, which is the state flower of Texas. Additional seeds will be donated to the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department.