Miami Palmetto High School junior Lauren Blackwell has earned her Girl Scouts Gold Award. Blackwell painted a mural at the Family Resources Center, an adoption and foster care center in Miami.
She chose the Family Resources Center for her project because of a school visit done by a center representative.
“When I went to seventh grade, a woman entered our classroom and talked about foster care,” Blackwell says. “She gave me her phone number and said, ‘if you ever want to help us.’ I care about the children and I want to give back.”
She painted the mural in the lobby of the organization’s new building. The mural depicts a diverse family, a mom, a dad and a child, jumping up in the air for joy.
“I wanted to show that diversity is a normal part of our society and I believe it should have representation,” she says. “By normalizing diverse ethnicities and families we can achieve a better understanding of one another and create a more tolerant and inclusive society.”
In all, the mural took about two months and about 100 hours to complete. Project planning took about a month. Friends Sofia Aguirre and Victoria Amorim helped.
Blackwell also created a video for the Family Resources Center website about the mural.
“It talks about the purpose of the mural,” she says. “The Family Resources Center is going to keep it up.”
She kept project costs down by using her personal art supplies. As an artist, specializes in landscapes painted with acrylic paint.
She’s been painting since first grade. She took art classes at school but stopped after freshman year. Now it’s more of a hobby.
At Palmetto, she’s a member of several clubs and honor societies, including the National Honor Society and Key Club.
“I did a project with Key Club,” she says. “I collected books. I did it for the kids’ library at the YMCA.”
She collected 200-300 children’s books, enough to fill up a bookcase at the Y.
Through Key Club, she collected for a month but now she’s continuing on her own. Her goal is to fill a second bookcase.
Blackwell is the president of the YMCA’s teen leader’s club. As the president, she was asked to be the teen representative on the YMCA’s board of directors, she had to turn down the position because the meetings conflicted with school.
Blackwell swims for Palmetto in freestyle events, including the 100 and relays. She’s been swimming since sixth grade.
She uses her swimming experience to work as a lifeguard at the Bubbles Swim School where she taught babies how to swim.
“It was a challenge at first. They were always crying,” she says. “The kids were so adorable.”
She says some of the little ones wouldn’t let her touch them to get them into the water. But once she did, they would start laughing and blowing bubbles and they’d enjoy it.
This summer, she’ll be doing an internship in the Baptist Internship for Teens at the main Baptist Hospital.
“We are going to be observing the patients,” she says. “We’re going to be observing from cardiac to birth.”
Only 14 teens are chosen for the program every year.
“I’m interested in becoming a doctor,” she says.
That interest was likely sparked watching her grandfather, who used to run the Baptist Emergency room and her mom, who is a nurse practitioner.
Currently, the University of Florida tops her college list (both her parents attended) but she’s also looking at the University of Central Florida and Florida State.