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A Mural Filled with Hope

August 14, 2019

DDC: Shoshana Khan, 718-391-1251,

(Bronx, NY – August 14, 2019) The NYC Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) STEAM education initiative, NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD), NYC Department of Education (DOE) and Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LeAp) came together today to celebrate the completion of The Haul created by LeAp Teaching Artist Anjelica Cruz and the youth of Horizon Juvenile Detention Center in the Bronx.


The Haul painted by LeAp TellerStrong Education Campus Teaching Artist Anjelica Cruz and Horizon Juvenile Detention Center’s youth

The Haul is a floor-to-ceiling mural with dimensions of 21.5’ x 7.8’ and depicts a dialogue that starts with inspirational African-American men and women who broke barriers and made contributions in architecture and engineering (left) and ends with opportunities where the youth would be able to leave a mark in the future after their time in Horizon (right). The youth named the mural The Haul after the H-Hall cohort they were part of at Horizon. The mural features several DDC projects including the newly reconstructed West 215th Step Street in Manhattan, the restoration of High Bridge that connects the Bronx to Manhattan and the Percent for Art sculptures of Harriet Tubman in Manhattan and Achilles and Odysseus at Horizon.

The influential figures were chosen through research done by the youth and teaching artist, which includes the first African-American engineer registered in New York George Biddle Kelley, first African-American male architect registered in New York Vertner Woodson Tandy, first African-American female architect registered in New York Norma Merrick Sklarek and first female African-American architect registered in the United States, Beverly Lorraine Green.

ACS and DYCD created the summer program with DDC’s STEAM program for students in their Vulnerable Youth Program where DYCD paid the students in secure facilities as interns. STEAM partnered with LeAp to have TellerStrong Education Campus Teaching Artist Anjelica Cruz host the internship and collaborate with nine talented young men from Horizon who worked as public art interns. Artist Manny Vega was a guest artist during the first two days of the program and spoke to the students about public art being a vehicle to empower communities.  


The mural depicts youth passing through High Bridge, 215th Step Street and the Harriet Tubman Plaza, all of which symbolize them rising above and crossing into the successful future they envision

“To support young people involved in the justice system, we are working across City agencies and through innovative programs with community partners such as LeAp to reduce recidivism and keep participants on the path to success,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “This multi-agency collaboration highlights the Administration’s commitment to tapping into the very best of our young people and helping them grow into the next generation of leaders.”

“Art is a form of healing and therapy, especially for the youth at Horizon Juvenile Detention Center,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “We are glad to have partnered with DOE, DYCD, ACS and LeAp to bring a mural that will continuously remind the youth of hope, success and that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. The Haul is a special project to DDC because it’s outside of the traditional construction we do in public buildings and infrastructure.”

“Today’s mural unveiling was supremely inspiring. Congratulations to our fabulous Horizon DDC/DYCD public art students who worked hard to research and depict key unsung heroes of the built environment,” said Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis. “It is fitting that we honor these trail blazers with a mural that will serve to both educate and inspire. This project provided DDC with a unique opportunity to partner with DOE, the DYCD/ACS Vulnerable Youth Program, LeAp and public artist Manny Vega to work at that the Horizon youth correctional facility and have the young men who are incarcerated at this facility work as public art interns to create a beautiful and inspiring STEAM themed mural.”  

“I have experienced first-hand the power of the arts to heal and help foster connections,” said DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza. “We are thankful to DDC, DYCD, ACS and LeAp for their partnership in bringing to life this mural created by and for the students at Horizon Juvenile Detention Center. We hope this mural will remind our students of their vast potential and all that is possible for them.”

“The creation of The Haul showcases the talent and creativity of our young people from all walks of life,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong. “Through this interagency collaboration, DYCD’s Summer Youth Employment Program is reaching and positively impacting more young people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to paying jobs and career exploration. DYCD is pleased to partner with ACS, DDC, DOE and LeAp to provide these young men with essential professional skills that will help them build a successful future.”

“LeAp believes in the transformation power of the arts in the development of young people, especially those enduring challenging life experiences,” said LeAp Executive Director Richard Souto. “We are very grateful for our long-term partnership with the NYC DDC that enabled us to work with youth from the Horizon Juvenile Detention Center. Through collaboration on a public mural, these participants developed their creativity and self-expression skills and built personal resiliency that will help them be prepared for their future.”

“At ACS, we are committed to ensuring that young people who enter the juvenile justice system leave better than they came,” said ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell. “This brand-new mural depicts the past and present about many of the unsung minority heroes in architecture and engineering, while serving as an important reminder that it is our responsibility to help these young people paint a bright future. I want to thank all those at ACS who made this public art project possible and our partners at DDC, DOE, DYCD and the afterschool provider, LeAp for their collaboration to find innovative ways to engage vulnerable youth.”

“Since Horizon has opened in October 2018, there as been an unprecedented level of collaboration between ACS and DOC,” said Horizon Juvenile Detention Center Assistant Commissioner Susan Campos. “The initiative to paint The Haul has expanded our partnership with DDC and other agencies, which has solidified the City’s commitment to the youth we service. The mural serves as a reminder of the commitment of the work done by the youth at Horizon who will forever have their work displayed as part of their vision to success.

“The challenge was to create a place for the students to recognize their self-worth as vital and as a generator of what they can become,” said Artist Manny Vega. “An invitation to explore Creative expression becomes a venue for youth to develop self-confidence and a commitment to being a contributor. That’s so important because it keeps youth engaged as citizens who will contribute creatively to the culture of this country, with their own experiences, as primer for more art in the future.”

“Never in a million years would I have thought that I would have such an amazing opportunity to work with the youth of Horizon Juvenile Detention Center and leave a mark within our community,” said LeAp’s TellerStrong Education Campus Teaching Artist Anjelica Cruz. “It is an honor to bring inspirational art to the youth as a reminder that there is a world with endless possibilities for success in architecture, engineering and construction.”

“This has been a life changing experience not just for our teaching artist Ms. Cruz, but for also for our H-Hall family and myself included,” said LeAp’s TellerStrong Campus Director Marie Feltio. “As someone who was once under the ACS system, to have the opportunity to take part in this project through my supervisor, LeAp District 9 Network Program Manager Monique Jarvis was truly a homecoming experience for me. The Haul mural is a pristine example of what our mission is truly about, which is to promote and provide access and equity to youth chronically undeserved by the arts, disrupt the prison to school pipeline through access to the arts and to empower youth to be ceiling breakers through high quality creative youth development.”

“We wanted to be part of this project because we face many challenges in our life, many of which this mural is able to show,” said a public art intern who worked on the mural. “The project became a big part of our lives because it helps us to think about our plans and future goals that will allow us to change things in our lives, look at life differently and become more focused. It was a good experience and I had a great time completing this project. An opportunity to paint a mural doesn’t happen often and we did this for ourselves to show us that there are different steps in life that you have to tame to overcome obstacles.”

“When we first started painting the mural, there were ups and downs for me. After we turned on the radio, that was it, it all fell into place,” said a public art intern who worked on the mural. “Thank you for allowing us to try something different, because we don’t really get to do stuff like this.


The youth of the H-Hall cohort expressed their desire to work in construction and envision a future that includes networking with businesses, designing buildings and creating a home for their family.

As part of the Raise the Age Program, youth were moved to the Center from Rikers Island to provide services needed to rehabilitate themselves and re-integrate into their communities. DDC is currently completing a major renovation of Horizon, which includes renovation of residential bathrooms and basements, bleacher refurbishment in the gymnasium, installation of new HVAC units, installation of trailers for Correctional Officers, insulation of hot water heater and hot water tanks and roof replacement. The renovation is anticipated to be completed in winter 2019.

Other successful DDC STEAM programs include the ACE Mentor Program, Town & Gown and the High School Summer Internship Program, a six-week paid internship program for students interested in pursuing careers in architecture, engineering, building trades, public administration, business administration or information technology. Overall, DDC STEAM has engaged with over 3,500 students in various programs since its inception in 2014.


About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit