No longer afraid to try

"There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed." - Ray Goforth

I’d forgotten to believe in myself. Everyone’s life around me was progressing, yet my life seemed as if it was on pause, and I felt stuck.

After a five-year break following high school, I went to college to study early childhood education and began an internship with the American Mural Project (AMP). Dreams had never seemed possible until now, but my inspiration started shining again, and I feel like I found myself once more.

adult and children work on long footprint scroll At AMP, Sarah has been helping develop and create multiple educational projects and programs, including summer enrichment programs. (Photo: American Mural Project)

I’m inspired by seeing Ellen Griesedieck, founder of AMP, work for almost twenty years on her dream — a giant mural that shows American workers — and never giving up on her goals.

Getting to know my mentors at AMP, hearing about the challenges they have gone through, how they stand tall, and work every day to accomplish their goals keeps me believing in the strength of others and myself.

At AMP I have been helping to develop and create many incredible educational projects and programs: a teen focus group, the Laurel Parade, Make Music Day, and AMP’s summer enrichment programs. I also worked at the Random Hacks of Kindness event, where participants learned how to build an app, and I helped children create art at the Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School.

Helping and teaching children educational and life skills, as well as making an impact even on just one child, means I’m one step closer to my goals and dreams. And I’ve been able to do that, and more, at AMP.

Adult and children play in classroom As an early childhood education major, Sarah has been teaching children life skills during her internship at AMP. (Photo: American Mural Project)

Everyone I have worked with has made an impact on me and opened my eyes to different types of work and techniques. While learning about time management, organization skills, creativity, development, and structure, I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone, and for that, I am truly thankful.

AMP has changed my life within the few months I have been part of the organization. It's shown me the beauty of work and how helping hands can touch a whole community.

I don’t just see dreams as dreams anymore, because everyone here has made me realize that dreams do come true, and anything you put your mind to you can definitely achieve. I am no longer afraid to try — and I know I will succeed.

A section of mural being painted A section of the 120-foot mural being painted. (Photo: American Mural Project)

- story by Sarah Kruse, a student at Northwestern Connecticut Community College in Winsted, Connecticut, who is majoring in early childhood education.

American Mural Project logo

Launched in 2002 by artist Ellen Griesedieck, the AMP is creating the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world: a mural 120-feet long, 48-feet high, and up to ten feet deep. The mural is a tribute to American workers and highlights what has defined the country over the last century. It seeks to inspire, to educate, to invite collaboration, and to reveal to people of all ages the many contributions they can make to American culture. Nothing like it exists in the world. More than 15,000 children and adults have helped create pieces of the mural, which will be housed in two former mill buildings on Whiting Street in Winsted, Connecticut.

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