ShareThis Page

McKeesport Auberle mural project inspires peace through painting

Michael DiVittorio
| Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 10:32 a.m.
Moving the Lives of Kids executive artist Kyle Holbrook unveils murals painted by Auberle children and staff Monday afternoon.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Moving the Lives of Kids executive artist Kyle Holbrook unveils murals painted by Auberle children and staff Monday afternoon.
Self-portraits by the girls of Auberle were among the works unveiled at the McKeesport facility.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Self-portraits by the girls of Auberle were among the works unveiled at the McKeesport facility.

Auberle youth and staff learned about peace through painting as part of a mural project with Moving the Lives of Kids.

Murals were presented in McKeesport on Thursday afternoon.

Artists said 31 youths from across Auberle's 16 programs collaborated with the professional group to create the art that will be displayed throughout the facility.

“It's not about painting a pretty picture, even though I think we did that,” said Moving the Lives of Kids executive artist Kyle Hornick.

“It was something to do. It was fun,” said 15-year-old Treyvon P. “I enjoyed it. It helps me vent and I express how I feel through drawing and painting. It's like a coping skill ... Where it says ‘love with the hearts,' I did that. I did the cross down in the corner and I did a couple other things down in the corner. It was peace through painting.”

The mural project is part of Auberle's certification process through The Sanctuary Model. That model integrates current brain and medical research, best practices in promoting emotional, mental and behavioral health and healing strategies for at-risk youth and their families.

“We really wanted to focus in on the topic of sanctuary,” Auberle director of residential services Gary Hazy said. “The concept of personal safety, the concept of positive self-image and how can we take it from what's on your brain, what you wish to be and get it on paper. The whole process probably lasted five or six weeks. It was no small feat.”

“We found these projects have been really beneficial to our young people,” Auberle CEO John Lydon said. “You really have to get up close and personal to see the impact that our young people made on this. With the symbols and the words and the things that are really important to them.”

Messages painted on the murals include “love,” “hope,” “dream big,” “be friendly,” “it takes courage to ask for help,” and “play nice in the sandbox.”

Hornick said he worked with 22 boys and some staffers for their part of the project, and some of the teens helped teach techniques to the younger children.

“I think everything turned out great,” he said. “I'm real proud of them. From far away it looks like a color scheme or pattern, but when you get up close you see that each one tells its own story.”

Nathan P., 14, said he painted water and helped with the structure of the mural.

“It feels pretty good,” Nathan said about working on the project.

Moving the Lives of Kids artist Portia Hornick worked with nine Auberle girls.

“I had every girl take a piece of paper and write down their goals for the future and where they see themselves,” Hornick said. “I had them brainstorm as far as the sketches and what symbols they could draw ... They took their notes and incorporated that all around their portrait. After that we started our big mural.”

One girl wanted to be a shoe designer and painted a brand name. Another wanted to be a lawyer and painted a gavel.

“There was definitely some talent discovered during this process,” Hornick said. “They all did a really good job.”

Auberle and the mural group first collaborated on a project for the Westmoreland County Courthouse in 2011.

Hornick said the relationship between the organizations grew from there, and he was happy to be back at Auberle for another project.

Auberle's mural project was made possible by support from The Grable Foundation. More information about Auberle's certification in The Sanctuary Model is available online at

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me