Thirsty for Change? Art and Water Unite Youth

by Creative Action Institute
Muraling for the Environment
Muraling for the Environment

As the calendar year and our second year working with youth in Pico Bonito National Park come to a close, it is time to reflect on the year's events. And what an eventful year it has been! ArtCorps Artist Monica Gutierrez worked with youth in both El Nance and Tacualtuzte, Honduras to raise awareness about the environment all while encouraging team work and developing leadership among youth in both communities. Here are some of the highlights since the last update.

Radio Theater

Migration effects many Honduran families, as most Honduran’s have family members that are currently working in the United States. Because it profoundly affects The AJAASSPIB Youth Group, the group decided to gather stories about immigration from their communities and analyze causes, consequences and attitudes about migration. The youth are turning the information they gather into a 25 minute radio play about migration from El Nance and Tacualtuzte to the United States. The play will be divided into five minute episodes and broadcasted during five consecutive days on Radio Ranchera, the most popular radio station in the Aguan Valley and one that reaches even the most remote communities.

You may be asking yourself, “So what does a radio program on migration have to do with this project?”Good question. Through this activity, the youth are developing leadership skills and the ability to communicate effectively with thousands of people on a topic that is important to them. They will be able to take these skills and apply them to environmental issues. It also helped the youth connect with current AJAASSPIB leaders, who were key sources of information on migration in the region.

Celebrate and Fundraise

The AJAASSPIB Youth Group is developing leadership skills by organizing multiple fundraisers such as dance parties, movie nights and barbeques, which will allow the group to take fieldtrips to places they would not otherwise be able to go. The youth have taken on more and more responsibility for planning, organizing and executing each event. They are developing skills in collaborating, communicating and creative problem solving. It is expected that in the near future they will have the ability to run the events completely on their own.

Leaders in Environment Youth Exchange

The AJAASSPIB Youth Group in El Nance and Tacualtuzte have developed relationships with each other as well as Honduran youth group JAUR, an environmental youth group that has been working with other ArtCorps Artists and happens to be twenty miles away. The youth first met through videos they created and posted on YouTube. (Click here to see the video from the AJAASSPIB Youth Group and the JAUR). Because both youth groups live relatively close to each other, the youth were able to meet and share their leadership and Art for Social Change experiences.

Looking Forward to 2011

In 2011, ArtCorps Artist Allison Havens will be building on this year’s work to raise awareness about the environment and build youth leadership through public murals, radio dramas and youth group exchanges. Stay tuned for the next update and thank you for supporting this project – we couldn’t do it without you!

Youth Prepare for an Event
Youth Prepare for an Event


Recording invite for another environmental group
Recording invite for another environmental group

June 2010

Camping Field Trip We just got back from camping in the reserve where an endemic hummingbird is being protected. The youth had a fantastic time. We explored our surroundings and mixed different colors to match what we saw and where we live. We forgot the generic ways of drawing and looked at the nature that exists in the valley and captured it on paper with paint.

Horse Hair Paintbrushes Workshop Magu, the ArtCorps Artist that was present in this valley last year and the force behind the youth group in Chorrera, has left a great legacy of skills and knowledge. Building on this, I invited youth from Chorrera to come teach our youth group how to make paintbrushes with horse hair and recycled materials. After the workshop we had some successful samples, as well as some bald and crooked paintbrushes. We will try them out soon!

Tree Nursery The mountains have blushed green from the rains, our seedlings bloom alongside all other vegetation, and the battle against weeds has intensified in our nursery. AJAASSPIB’s environmental youth group has been taking care of these baby trees since early April. Each participant has a week assigned where they learn how to take care of the nursery. We have become proud parents to these plants. We prepared their beds, and decorated their temporary homes. We clean after them and make sure they never go thirsty. The group has worried about plagues, night thieves, weeds, droughts, cows, pigs and donkeys that threaten the seedlings. We’ve also planted them into plots of land along the creek that serve as permanent homes. Now, our work, efforts and the connection we have with the little baby trees will be recorded in a mural painting. Ironically, the rain that has made our trees stronger is also slowing down the pace at which we paint.

July 2010 Murals are complete! Watch video: On an impromptu night we scurried through the local high school with a projector. The light shone on drawings that have been prepared by the youth during our camping experience and throughout the last few meetings. Shadows and highlights were seen more clearly as the night advanced. We painted quickly in black and white, slightly frightened by stories of hauntings at the school and the prospect of nightly rains that might compromise our work on the outside wall. Strange noises were heard from the forests at the back of the school. The kids assured me it was a coyote. The next day we came back and put color to the black and white skeleton from the night before. We worked in the rain, but the kids were excited about the advances and some even stayed longer, saying it was better than doing homework.

The work continued the next week in the neighboring town and both murals were finished.

August 2010 Mural Inauguration

Recently we invited the president of the local water board to our small inauguration of the murals. He hadn't seen the mural and was very impressed. In it, the youth painted part of the nursery they have all worked on, and many of the local flora and fauna of the "very dry tropical forest" in the valley where we live. He was very impressed and spoke a few words about how he admired the work done by our group, and thought that the more these youth were involved the healthier the community would be.

There are almost no sources of information for youth about their local water resources or proper environmental practices. In my group we have discussed some of the urgent concerns with water and they do see that there is a need for conservation now, and they feel involved since we have actively been working in reforestation and taking care of the nursery these months. Our mural themes relate directly to these necessities and new knowledge that they are developing, and the need to inform the rest of the community not through lectures but through communicative visuals.

Girls pose with handmade horsehair paintbrushes
Girls pose with handmade horsehair paintbrushes



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Organization Information

Creative Action Institute

Location: Ipswich, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Julia DOrazio
Communications & Development Manager
Ipswich, MA United States

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