A childless art teacher is upset when she sees ugly graffiti near her home, but then she sees the young artists and decides to help them.
Landa Forman walked out of her building and gasped. Overnight, the building opposite had acquired a massive mural of the most lurid, ugly graffiti she had ever seen!
The images were crude, badly drawn, and represented scenes of unbearable violence. Stick figures with heads exploding in red were the least of it, and worse of all, huge letters proclaimed: "KILL THE WORLD."
Under Linda's guidance, the boys' graffiti became art. | Source: Shutterstock.com
The mural wasn't just ugly and badly executed, it was depressing. "What on earth could lead young people to create this monstrosity?" she asked herself. "These must be profoundly unhappy kids!"
Linda was an art teacher and she loved children. Her greatest regret was that she and her husband Brad hadn't been able to have children of their own. They tried for years, went through IVF, and had recently started talking about adopting.
We can all make a difference.
As she drove to work, she wondered how the kids who made such dark graffiti lived. Did they have good, loving families? Were they just copying the violence they saw in rock videos?
Linda decided to keep an eye out for the culprits. She wanted to know them and understand where they were coming from. She wanted to know why they focused on despair instead of the bright future every child had the right to dream about.
Linda was an art teacher and she loved her job. | Source: Pexels
Three days later, Linda got her chance. She was arriving home from school when she saw two kids in their early teens tagging a skull head with a huge devouring mouth.
Linda jumped out of the car and raced towards them. "Wait!" she cried, as the two boys spotted her and started running away. "I just want to talk, okay? You're not in trouble..."
The two boys stopped and looked back. Linda could see they were very thin, their clothes were ragged, and they were far from clean. "Did you two boys paint that mural?" she asked.
The taller boy looked frightened and nodded. "Yeah...we did," he said.
Linda noticed some ugly graffiti near her home. | Source: Unsplash
Linda walked toward them slowly as if she was approaching some wild creatures. "The artwork is very interesting," she said. "You know I'm an art teacher. I could give you boys some lessons if you like...and get you more paints, bright colors."
The shorter boy took a step forward. "You could teach us to draw better?" he asked.
"Yes!" said Linda with a smile. "Listen, you boys look hungry, so how about some lunch?" The two boys' eyes lit up, and Linda took them home and dished up huge plates of hot stew which they devoured in record time.
After lunch, Linda showed them some of her work and gave them a few basic notions of sketching, proportion, and perspective.
Linda caught the two boys painting the walls. | Source: Unsplash
The boys, Dean and Joe, admitted that they were runaways. They lived in an abandoned building and earned a few dollars here and there doing odd jobs and deliveries. Linda took them to a youth shelter and asked them to stay there for at least three days.
"Listen," she said. "I know I can help you in a lot of ways, but you have to stay here, okay?"
The boys agreed reluctantly, and when Linda came to fetch them for their art lesson the next day, they had showered and were wearing clean clothes. Linda's next step was to get them to attend school.
It wasn't easy. Both boys had run away from unfortunate home lives and were afraid they'd be dragged back. Linda arranged for a meeting with Social Services and offered herself and Brad as foster parents for the Dean and Joe.
Linda discovered that the boys were homeless. | Source: Unsplash
Under Linda and Brad's care, the two boys blossomed. They were bright kids. Dean was excellent in English, and Joe had a gift for mathematics -- and both had a passion for art and music.
After six months, the boys were unrecognizable. They were painting on canvas and producing work beyond their age, and with more hopeful themes. Linda was delighted and she and Brad started talking about adopting them.
One of the most moving moments of Linda's life was when the boys came to her and asked shyly if they could call her and Brad 'mom and dad.' Linda wept unashamedly and threw her arms around the two boys.
One afternoon, she was called into the staff room by an excited colleague. "Linda, did you see what your kids did?" she asked.
The boys were commissioned to decorated public buildings. | Source: Pexels
Linda shook her head. "No," she said. "What happened?" But instead of answering, her colleague dragged Linda up to the staff room TV where a reporter was standing in front of a bus stop.
On the glass, someone had painted an image of a woman embracing two boys who looked a lot like Dean and Joe. In fact, the woman looked exactly like Linda! Over the portraits, the boys had written: "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace."
Linda started crying! She thought back to the dark images the boys had once painted and saw what a huge difference she'd made in their lives. The city's mayor was so impressed he commissioned the boys to paint several public spaces.
The city attributed money for Linda to start an art project with street children to help them return to society and to give them hope of a brighter future, just like she'd done with Dean and Joe.
With Linda and her husband, the boys grew into good, kind men. | Source: Unsplash
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