Coordinating a bunch of pre-teens and teens to work on a project together can be a trying experience. But, not so much, if another young man has helped in getting them all on one page. Or, in this case, on six walls.
Chance Kawar, a young man of 17 years, helped oversee the on the , underneath Carlton Hills Boulevard on Saturday. Kawar is an Eagle Scout candidate of Troop #51.
“This project was referred to me by Sue Richardson, who is one of the adult leaders in my Boy Scout Troop and works as the Recreation Services Manager [for the City of Santee],” said Kawar.
He had been looking for a project to do for his Eagle Scout Troop, and he thought the mural painting was the perfect opportunity.
“On several occasions I have been able to enjoy some of the amenities the park has to offer. As a boy scout and a citizen, I understand how important it is to give back to your community,” he said.
Kawar has also gotten to know Thom Guerra, the mural artist who designed the pattern for the mural, after the artist had contacted the city.
Guerra was interested in using his artistic abilities to help the community, but they needed a third party to help raise funds, purchase materials, coordinate volunteers, and make the project happen.
"Since I started organizing this project I have meet with him several times and can tell you that he is not only a gifted artist but a really great guy to work with,” Kawar said.
Guerra is well known around East County for his work with murals in Santee and El Cajon.
But why Mast Park Bridge as the object for the mural?
Anyone who has walked the new trail extension through the park knows that answer.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from the public that it was ,” Richardson said.
"The new connector trail opened up in the spring and lots of people go through here with their kids or dogs, or even by themselves,” she said. “We wanted to help people feel safe through here, let them know they’re still on the trail.”
The new murals, painted on the series of walls that support the bridge, will help deter as well.
"We use a special anti-graffiti coating on the paint,” said Richardson.
Kawar said that the mural would be a huge improvement for the park.
“The site of the mural has long been the target of graffiti, which has made it an eyesore,” he said. “Park Maintenance has had to cover this up with whatever paint they have on hand which has not made it any more attractive.
"The mural will not only make this a nicer park of the park, but it will repel taggers who might otherwise see it as fair game.”
How did this very articulate 17-year-old develop a passion for working on such a project?
"To be honest I don’t have a lot of experience with art, but it is something I have always enjoyed doing,” Kawar said. “I know when I was younger I was more and used to take .
“Most of what I have learned about community service has been through Scouts. In Boy Scouts we really emphasize the importance of giving back to the community and making a difference.”
Kawar pulled volunteers from three sources. First, he asked his fellow troop member to come out and help.
“It is a tradition in our Troop to help out when a fellow scout is working on their Eagle Project. I am really thankful for all of the support they have shown so far,” Kawar said.
Troop Member Jack Dice, 14, said that he hoped that new members would join the troop once they see their work. “When people walk by, they’ll think about how much work we did,” Dice said.
In addition to the Boy Scouts, the had some of their come out and work, since they are interested in keeping the area surrounding the well-maintained.
At-large community members also were invited to come out and support their local park. Kawar had posted that information on the City of Santee website.
“I would like to thank all of the people who have helped m with this project. I could not be doing it if it weren’t for the countless people who have donated their money, time, or services,” Kawar said.
“An extra special thanks to Mr. JR Raines at for all of his efforts in making sure my donation request was not 'lost' in the corporate world,” he said. “All of the contributions are greatly appreciated and will make my project a huge success.”
Kawar is a fine example of what it means to be an Eagle Scout. He will make the Boy Scout organization proud, having helped to keep one of Santee’s favorite parks safe and beautiful.
Companies who donated goods and services include The El Cajon; The Home Depot Fairmount; Santee; McParlane and Associates; Sherwin-Williams El Cajon; Union Bank, and the event team.