Students add color to children’s lives through ‘The Memory Project’

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We want to thank our viewer Joel Dixon for sharing this story with us.

COLUMBIANA, Ala. (WIAT) — Art students at Shelby County High School are helping disadvantaged children overseas document their lives.

Each face tells a story. A story of a life so far removed from the lives of these art students at Shelby County High School.

Art teacher Michelle Branson guides her students’ brush strokes every day but “The Memory Project” stands out. These students receive a photo of an underprivileged child and paint a new portrait to send back.

Branson said, “It’s hard in today’s day and age to know how to be good and so this program is just like, ‘Hey here’s a really easy way to be good’ and these kids just jump at it.”

At a time when most communication is done through a smartphone, these students are forming a universal language through their artwork.

Branson said, “There’s just joy when the kids get the portraits because who doesn’t want a picture of themselves? It’s really awesome to think somebody worked really hard to make you a special present and it crossed oceans to get to you.”

Madison Smith, an art student, said, “I just want [the child] to feel happy. It makes me feel really grateful that we’re one of the schools that actually get to give to other people.”

Branson said, “We’re all humans, we all want the same things. We all want kids to be happy we all want kids to have a personal history.”

Once the project is complete, the children send back a video showing their reactions to the portraits.

The video below shows the Syrian refugees who benefited from this program last year. Sophomore Madison Smith received a photo of a 7-year-old girl.


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