Teens focus on art instead of crime

Wednesday, March 19th 2008, 6:53 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

This week is Spring Break for several metro teens, but some aren't resting or relaxing. Instead they're hard at work changing the face of southwest Oklahoma City.

The students are talented artists who are putting together a multicultural mural. If that isn't fascinating enough, consider that their talent wasn't always recognized and it's not being used to steer them away from a life of crime.

A small non-descript building in southwest Oklahoma City serves as the canvas for amateur artists. They're re-creating the likeness of everything from teepees to the bald eagle and even the statue of liberty.

Ricardo Cardenas is one of the artists taking part in Weed and Seed Multi-cultural over Spring Break. He said the mural meant a lot to the country as well as him.

"I was getting into trouble just running around with the wrong people doing bad things and stuff like that," Cardenas said.

Pastor Israel Mireles is all too familiar with gang activity since he has been a member of gangs and even spent time in prison. He now heads up a church inside the same building where he preaches sermons of success and redemption.

"They listen to us because they can identify, because they say he's been in it," Mireless said. "They understand when we come in and say look I grew up this way."

Cardenas credits his mentor with steering him away from crime. The high school senior is now looking at colleges and art schools.