OSWEGO, NY – People entering a courtroom don’t normally expect to see children’s artwork hanging from the walls.
But, visitors to the Family Court courtroom at the Oswego County Public Safety Center are now greeted by the warm and bright colors of children’s drawings and paintings, thanks to a unique project initiated by Family Court Judge Kimberly Seager and the Youth Advocate Program of Oswego County.
The completed art mural project was recently unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The mural features the “Youth Bill of Rights” and picture frames painted on walls around the courtroom to display children’s artwork. The first art exhibit was created by students at Kingsford Park Elementary School in Oswego.
New artwork from schools across the county will be rotated once a month.
“When I first took office, I envisioned a courtroom that would be more welcoming to youth from Oswego County,” Judge Seager told youth, advocates and guests. “The court is a place where young people can grow and a place where they can learn to be better citizens. I wanted the room to reflect that, and now it does.”
Youth volunteers and YAP staff spent several months and many hours planning the design and painting the room.
At a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony, Judge Seager praised the efforts of all who were involved in the mural.
“The goal of the project was to make the courtroom more child-friendly,” she said. “Often families are in crisis when they come to court. If we can assist in making court a warmer environment, it is better for everyone.”
Brandi Weaver, advocate who coordinated the art mural, explained that the project began in early summer.
Using a projector, they displayed designs of picture frames onto the walls, brought in paints, brushes and other supplies, and worked during evenings or weekends when court was not in session.
David Canfield, director of the Youth Advocate Program, said youth were invited to volunteer for the betterment of Oswego County and spent “many, many hours” working on the project.
The project involved “Time Dollar Banking” where youth give back to their communities.
When asked about his involvement, Tony Martin, age 13, of Oswego, explained that working on the mural was “pretty fun” because he enjoyed meeting Judge Seager and was spending time in court for a good purpose.
“I was not in court on a bad level,” he said.
Another student, 14-year-old Janelle Freeman of Central Square, stated that her favorite part was coming and seeing everybody involved in the project, along with knowing that the courtroom’s new appearance will make it more comfortable for kids going to court.
The project was funded through a grant from former Congressman John McHugh, which was administered through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and approved by the NYS Office of Court Administration.
Canfield thanked McHugh, members of the County Legislature, City-County Youth Bureau Director Kathy Fenlon, and the County Buildings and Grounds Department for their support and assistance.