Perryville teen creates new mural for Whitsitt Center
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.
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.