Boulder Daily Camera- November 14, 2009
'Dreamers' leave lasting impression
By Meghan Tschanz For the Camera
Bobbie Benson, left, helps Luci Robles open a can of paint. ( MARTY CAIVANO )
Children from low-income families laugh as they pull on their painting smocks, preparing for the task at hand -- creating something that will be cherished by generations of Boulderites to come. They're painting a mural in a tunnel under 47th Street near the Pleasant View soccer fields.
There have been around seven dreamers working on the soccer mural since mid-September. As of Nov. 1st they were nearly done.
"I think, for the kids, it is an opportunity for them to do art in the community," said Benson. "I like to let children recognize that their art can have an impact in society."
Jaime Astorga, 11, whose undefeated soccer team competes on the field adjacent to the tunnel, carefully climbs the ladder to outline a red star with black paint.
Several yards away, the Robles sisters bundle together to keep warm. Mayra, 14, Ana, 11, Paloma, 9, and Sonia, 7, have been working on the mural since the beginning.
Bobbie Benson, a retired teacher who taught at CU and in BVSD, mentors 11-year-old Ana Robles in connection with Boulder's chapter of the I Have a Dream Foundation, an organization that sponsors children from low-income families and provides them with mentors.
The children in the program are guaranteed a 4-year college education if they graduate from high school.
"I heard about the organization in my retirement, I became a mentor and this is my second year working with Ana, who is in 6th grade," said Benson. "I just feel it is really important to give back, educators were really important in my upbringing and I wanted to do it myself."
"I like going out to places and doing stuff with her," said Ana.
"I've taken her and her sisters to 'The Nutcracker,'" said Benson. "A lot of time I go to her house and play board games with them, I also do crafts with them."
For their current project together, a bit larger in scope than board games, Benson got a permit to paint a mural in the bike tunnel near the Pleasant View soccer fields.
"I usually run along through that tunnel and I thought, 'Wow, I have always wanted to do a mural with Ana and other dreamers,'" said Benson. "So I wrote a letter to the city of Boulder, who passed it to Boulder Maintenance, who passed it to the Boulder Arts Commission and it was approved."
"The initial project took a lot of incentive on Bobbie's part, it is a really cool project," said Collen Carpenter, a volunteer with Americorp who works with the I Have a Dream Foundation. "A lot of kids play soccer here."
"I am excited that the mural will be here for a long time," said Ana.
"I think it is creative and matches the soccer field," said Mayra. "Everyone is going to like it because we all worked on it and it is pretty."
Shayna Duncan, 10, loves painting and wants to be an artist when she grows up. She hopes that they can do another mural in the future.
"They should do another one by CU and have a lot of college stuff in it, like cell phones and books," Shayna said.
After they are through painting, the children all sign their name on the goal post in the mural, their way of leaving their legacy in Boulder forever.