Mentees come up with images for Fremont mural

Wall ball players at Fremont Elementary have a new backdrop to play against for the last few days of the school year.

Mentees and mentors from the Mentor Center of Western Nevada got together with staff of the Ron Wood Family Resource Center Service Learning program; teens from Stand Tall, Don't Fall; and two managers from Starbucks to paint a mural on the school's wall Saturday morning.

"I think it will be great for the Fremont students because it'll give them more color when they're playing wall ball," said Leah Taboada, 14, who was there with her mentor, Lynne Parrish. Leah was thinking about painting a frog for her sister, Katrina, a 10-year-old fourth-grader at Fremont, to see.

"My sister actually wants to be in the mentor program," she said.

The mural shows Fremont schoolkids playing in front of the hills of Carson City. John C. Fremont, wearing fringed buckskins, peers at them through a spyglass on top of the hills.

Hannah Lang of Carson High School's Stand Tall, Don't Fall program painted a face on a boy in a blue shirt hanging from red monkey bars.

"The reason we're here is to educate the younger kids about substance abuse and about alcopops," said the 15-year-old.

Alcopops, she explained, are alcoholic beverages marketed to young people. Some look like energy drinks or cola.

"See, this one is a Mudslide, but it looks like chocolate milk," she said, holding up a can her mother bought for the presentation.

Celebrating her 15th birthday at the event was Stand Tall, Don't Fall member Erica Walent.

"I felt this was better than just sitting at home," she said. "I wanted to come out and help."

She said she would teach the younger mentees about how the choices they make as young people reflect on them as they grow older.

Even organizer Ruth Gordon of the Mentor Center said the groups were a natural match.

"I think it's a great pairing," she said. "This way, the kids can see how cool it is to be nondrinker."

The mentees drew the pictures for the mural. The painting was originally planned as a National Youth Service Day event, but March snow canceled the first try.

Organizers took the mentees' drawings and used overhead projectors to trace them onto the wall for the kids to color in.

They added white and blue hand prints to the red trim.

Paint for the mural was donated by Sherwin Williams and Home Depot. The Starbucks managers bought pizza.

"I came here with juice and soda, and the kids asked, 'Where's the coffee?'" said Carson store manager Kate Langworthy with a laugh.

Gordon said she was glad to see the mentees give back to the community.

"I think it's really important for these kids to do service because so often they're on the receiving end of life," said Gordon. "It's very important that they learn to do for others as well."


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