Overexposed Souls hosted a small event for the kids of Shemwood Crossing Apartments. Shemwood holds a reputation of being one of Greenville, South Carolina's most overcrowded, crime-stricken, gang-affiliated residencies. Knowing that it's a dark environment for a child to grow up in, it was necessary to take the time to encourage kids from the neighborhood to make positive choices in the present that will lead them into a bright future.
We rode there one afternoon with a few members of my church, Greenville Church Without Walls, who frequent the neighborhood to spread hope. The kids grabbed some food and I began a conversation with them about what Overexposed Souls is and the meaning behind the shirt I was wearing (click here to read the shirt story).
I explained to them how my dream is to become a highly skilled and respected artist/designer and how I'm stepping further into that dream by applying principles from the bible to my life. I displayed some of my artwork (look out for the Barack Obama stone sculpture in the photos below), talked about how I was able to graduate from one of the top art schools in the country and how I've been able to design, model and meet celebrities as an employee with the company that produces Sheen Magazine.
After setting the stage with my own achievements, I was able to drive home the main point behind this particular shirt - We have the ability to achieve all of the dreams that God planted within us...they just take hard work, faith and patience to obtain.
As I spoke, I told the kids to think about their own goals as a banner hung behind me. The banner reads:
"Time waited is time gained. What dream will you work hard and be patient with so you can achieve it in the future?"
The kids were excited to learn that each of them would be gifted a shirt to take home as a reward for attending the session as long as they agreed to sign the banner with their name and dream for the future.
In Shemwood Crossing, a neighborhood deemed “violent” and “dangerous”, there are kids growing up with dreams of becoming doctors, cosmetologists, pro athletes and even police officers that needed someone to say “you can do it” and here’s how.
Promise (pictured above), is the young girl who wrote how she dreams of being a police officer to “make a difference in the world.”
By the end of the session the banner was filled with goals to look forward to and we’d handed out at least 25 shirts.
Each shirt came with a print out of the Time Waited is Time Gained “shirt story” to reinforce what we’d talked about as well as information about the Overexposed Souls website. Of course, the kids were excited to have a new shirt to wear, but the most important thing they took home was a reignited belief that their dreams are possible. Though they are growing up in a place that seems like the possibilities are limited, keeping faith, setting goals, and practicing patience will guide them into a much brighter future.
This project was funded in part by the Metropolitan Arts Council which receives support from the City of Greenville, BMW Manufacturing Company, Michelin North America, Inc., SEW Eurodrive and the South Carolina Arts Commission.