Bal Vihar & Interfaith teens build unique mural

Bal Vihar youth for interfaith project with other teens
The Mural item done jointly by Bal Vihar and other teens

ST. LOUIS: Teens from the St. Louis area have created a unique mural built entirely of canned goods that is on display at the Saint Louis Science Center through Friday, March 30.
The teens, representing four faiths (Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Christian), took their inspiration from the sculpture outside the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. The sculpture, named “Looking Up,” was created by St. Louis artist Thomas Friedman and represents an individual’s capability to aspire and dream beyond our daily life experience and look up and wonder what is beyond.
For the fifth year, the Center for Indian Cultural Education – Bal Vihar of St. Louis has collaborated with Interfaith Quest and the Saint Louis Science Center to organize this community service project. The can structure created by the students is themed “Thinking Beyond Ourselves” and is a mural of imagination of a world beyond what we know, a world full of love and harmony by man. The mural features over 5,600 cans of food.
“One reason we create projects like this at Bal Vihar is to teach our youth the value of community service and to create a sense of oneness within our community. At a time when the nation seems divided it is impressive to see the youth give up weekend time to come together and work on service projects and engage in meaningful dialogue with teens of other faiths” said Shoba Shekar, Community Projects Coordinator at Bal Vihar.

Bal Vihar youth for interfaith project with other teens

“A CANstruction project allows local youth representing various faith groups and different regions in the area to come together and build on their shared values,” said Beth Damsgaard-Rodriguez, CEO and Interfaith consultant for Interfaith Quest. “By partnering with the Saint Louis Science Center, we are able to share the energy and commitment this generation has for making the world a better place. Through the process of assembling the CANstruction, interfaith teens enhance team work and share interfaith conversations. With all the recent negative press around youth and religion, we are pleased to display hard work, harmony and interfaith understanding.”

“The Saint Louis Science Center is excited to host this interfaith, interdisciplinary project,” said Marlynn Chambers, manager of the Teen Ambassadors program at the Science Center. “The teens used both art and STEM to construct this extraordinary structure that calls for hope, peace, love and understanding among all. This project gives the Science Center an opportunity to be a hub where people from our region’s diverse communities can come together.”

Forty teens from the Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths built the structure. Additionally, seven teens from the Saint Louis Science Center’s YES (Youth Exploring Science) program participated in the project.
When the structure is disassembled, the cans, purchased through the generosity of local faith communities, will be donated to Operation Food Search.
The can structure is on display at the north end of the Saint Louis Science Center’s bridge connecting the main building to the Planetarium.

Bal Vihar youth for interfaith project with other teens

Center for Indian Cultural Education – Bal Vihar of St. Louis is a cultural school designed to promote, instill, and foster Indian culture in children ages 5 to 18
The mission of the Saint Louis Science Center is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. Named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate in 2016, the Saint Louis Science Center features more than 700 interactive exhibits, as well as a five-story OMNIMAX® Theater,
Interfaith Quest provides interactive leadership opportunities for youth representing a diversity of faith, race and culture together for the purpose of interfaith conversations and service.


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