Teens get blank slate with graffiti wall
Jennie Bödeker spray paints a lion on the new Lion's Den graffiti wall on Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg, Germany Oct.18. The German artist was on hand to celebrate the wall's grand opening and show teens some of her spray-painting skills. Earlier this year Bödeker also lent her talents to help decorate the walls of the Warrior Zone on Patton Barracks.

HEIDELBERG, Germany - A large white brick wall greeted visitors who braved the autumn chill to venture out to the Lion's Den Teen Center on Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg.

Yet in the eyes of 16-year-old TAfA!mon Wilks, the new wall represented something else - a blank canvas crying out for a little color and creativity.

The Heidelberg High School junior was one of several teens and U.S. Army Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4rtttemberg officials who gathered for the unveiling of the new graffiti wall Monday.

"I really didn't think they were going to do it. I thought they were kidding but I'm glad they came through and I'm thankful to everyone who helped get it done," Wilks said. "I think it's a great opportunity for us to express ourselves and let out our creativity and a way to get out for some kids. I know I'll be using it."

Wilks said he enjoys drawing cartoons and portraits.

The idea for the graffiti wall came about earlier this year after Garrison Commander Col. William Butcher met with local teens to learn their concerns and address issues important to them.

After the meeting, Butcher sought help from his staff to make the concept a reality.

"The purpose of the wall is to provide community youth an outlet to express their creativeness. We have so much to offer here at the Lion's Den and it's another way to get kids into our programs and involved in lots of different activities," said Sandy Hill, Chief of USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Child, Youth and School Services.

"Of course parents are concerned and the community is concerned that our youth are involved in activities that they should not be involved in, and so we want to provide different outlets and different options and things kids are interested in and have them offered here so kids will want to spend time here," she said. "Parents can be assured their kids are off the street, doing a supervised activity and being cared for and supervised by adults who are trained in youth development and that really care."

Heidelberg High school junior Cymber Martin welcomed the new wall and described it as unique.
"I think it's an interesting idea," she said. "You haven't really heard about it in other places, and I think it just might be one of those things that travels to other places as well. It also keeps all the vandalism off the parks and in one specific area and it's probably better for the whole community," she said.

The project took several months of planning as employees from the safety office, Heidelberg Medical Department Activity, the Directorate of Public Works and other agencies sought ways to ensure the wall was as safe as possible right down to the type of paint teens would use.

German artist Jennie BAfAPdeker was the first to christen the new graffiti wall with a lion.

She demonstrated to teens how to safely use the spray paints and answered art - related questions while attendees feasted on pizza and ice cream.

Teens wanting to paint on the wall must have a signed parental permission slip and wear goggles, gloves and a protective face mask.

All of the items are free and available for check-out at the Lion's Den and teens can only use the wall during the center's operating hours.

Once the wall is full, it will be white-washed to give the young artists a new canvas. Currently there are plans for one graffiti wall but if demand increases garrison officials said they would be willing to consider building a second one.

The Lion's Den is located in Bldg. 4533 on Patrick Henry Village. All of the activities and programs are open to DoD ID card holders only.

Page last updated Fri October 22nd, 2010 at 08:25