Per­ryville teen cre­ates new mu­ral for Whit­sitt Cen­ter

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By LEANN SCHENKE

CHESTERTOWN — With the help of Sa­van­nah Ben­net, the A.F. Whit­sitt Cen­ter now has a new mu­ral.

Ben­nett, who lives in Per­ryville, is a 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadet with Troop 522 of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Coun­cil. For her Sil­ver Award Project, Ben­nett said she wanted to cre­ate some­thing “that is sus­tain­able for the com­mu­nity.”

Her idea was to cre­ate a mu­ral that would pro­vide some op­ti­mism for those strug­gling with ad­dic­tion.

While the project be­gan ear­lier in the year, the of­fi­cial ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony was held July 23.

“Even though I am only 12 years old and have never touched drugs, I chose drug ad­dic­tion and re­cov­ery for my projects topic be­cause opi­oid ad­dic­tion have be­come part of my life,” Ben­nett said.

She said three peo­ple she is close to have strug­gled with ad­dic­tion. Af­ter vis­it­ing her cousin in a re­cover y cen­ter in Bal­ti­more, she no­ticed the unique mu­rals on the sides of the wall.

“That gave me the idea of paint­ing a wall mu­ral for my project. I wanted my paint­ing to show the beauty of life and give a pos­i­tive mes­sage of hope, like the ones Ben­nett said.

She said she choose the Whit­sitt Cen­ter as the lo­ca­tion for the mu­ral I saw in Bal­ti­more,” be­cause her brother and cousin have re­ceived help there.

Ben­nett worked with peer re­cov­ery ad­vo­cates at the Ce­cil County Al­co­hol and Drug Re­cov­ery Cen­ter, Voices of Hope Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ni­cola Barteau and em­ploy­ees of the Whit­sitt Cen­ter to cre­ate the mu­ral.

Through the Kent County Arts Coun­cil, which helped pro­vide fund­ing for the project, Ben­nett was put in con­tact with lo­cal artist Tilly Castelli who painted the mu­ral.

Castelli said she brain­stormed with Ben­nett and her mother Carolyn Lewis as to what they wanted the mu­ral to look like.

Both liked the idea of the mu­ral be­ing fo­cused on na­ture.

“I think na­ture can be heal­ing, and we wanted to stick with the theme of heal­ing and re­cov­ery,” Castelli said.

She said she painted the mu­ral with bright col­ors and plants na­tive to the area to em­pha­size op­ti­mism.

The mu­ral in­cludes a Monarch but­ter­fly, Queen Anne’s lace and milk­weed. And its vi­brant greens and yel­lows breakup the darker tones of the cen­ter.

Castelli said Ben­nett helped her paint the mu­ral and even com­pleted some of the smaller but­ter­flies.

PHOTO BY LEANN SCHENKE

Girl Scout Sa­van­nah Ben­nett helped add some beauty to the A.F. Whit­sitt Cen­ter with the in­stal­la­tion of a mu­ral. Pic­tured are all those who helped in the creation of the mu­ral af­ter a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony July 23. From left, are Ge­orge Bach, peer sup­port spe­cial­ist; Richard Raftery, Voices of Hope; Ni­cola Barteau, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Voices of Hope; Sa­van­nah Ben­net, project co­or­di­na­tor; Tilly Castelli, artist; Jen­nifer Wysong, peer sup­port spe­cial­ist; Jor­dan Lewis; John Davis, Ce­cil County Health De­part­ment; and Charles Tay­lor, board mem­ber of the Kent County Arts Coun­cil.

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