The days are brighter for children at the Children’s Adventure Center in Idaho Falls thanks to the efforts of two Skyline High School seniors.
Over the course of two months, Shawna Vang and Jessica Morales, both 18, adorned two walls of the center that serves children with developmental disabilities with a Dr. Seuss-themed mural.
The mural features characters from Dr. Seuss’s children’s books, including “The Cat in the Hat” and Horton, the eponymous elephant from “Horton Hears a Who.” At the heart of the mural is a quote from that book that is deeply meaningful to the center’s children: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
“It means everybody is important. Everyone can make a difference,” center director Heidi Abegglen said.
The center approached Skyline art teacher Alison Noble with a request for a mural, and Noble pitched the idea to her class.
Only Vang and Morales stepped forward to take on the job.
“I know that it was an incredible amount of time that the girls gave up outside of school,” she said. “A lot of effort was put into it.”
Vang found the experience deeply rewarding.
“It was fun just being there and painting, creating art for all the kids,” she said.
After graduation, Vang plans to attend the University of Idaho, majoring in virtual technology and design.
“This helped a lot with my skills,” she said.
Morales plans to find a job after graduation, saving money to pursue a degree in child psychology.
“I’ve wanted to be doing that for a year or two now,” she said. “It was interesting to be around kids that I didn’t know.”
The experience, she said, taught her important lessons about what is necessary to care for developmentally disabled children.
Outside of their familiar context, she said, “it is difficult for some of them to feel comfortable or at home. A lot of times, if there is art surrounding them, especially if it is uplifting art, it is easier to be comfortable in their surroundings.”
Abegglen said the center’s children have taken to the mural and are particularly fond of the rendering of The Cat in the Hat.
“They love it,” she said. “They love the bright colors.”
The willingness of Vang and Morales to give of their time should be a lesson for the entire community, Noble said.
“There are no small acts of kindness,” she said. “Every compassionate action enlarges the world and brings us closer together.”