A recent Coosa High School grad is using her talents to bring a little sunshine and a lot of smiles to a place where it’s needed most.

Lily Chesnut just graduated high school this spring. She’s spent some of her summer painting a mural at Harbor House Child Advocacy Center. The mural is almost complete now and features a beautiful outdoor scene complete with bright colors and whimsical animals.

The sun can be seen shining brightly over a meadow, large shady trees frame the scene as a waterfall splashes into a cool blue pool banked by a sandy beach. There are leaping trout, a hummingbird, a bear and even hermit crabs.

“I saw a Facebook post where they were looking for someone to paint a mural here,” Lily said. “I got excited. That’s what I love doing. My senior project at Coosa was a mural in the performing arts building. And I love that they wanted sort of an animal theme.”

What makes this mural so special is that it covers a wall inside one of the Harbor House buildings. Harbor House provides children of sexual and physical abuse a safe place to tell their stories of abuse. Their mission is to provide a caring, comfortable and safe environment to evaluate children who may have been abused and to encourage the collaboration of social and legal agencies for the benefit of the child and to lessen the trauma suffered.

The center serves families in Floyd, Polk and Haralson counties. Children visit Harbor House to be interviewed about their abuse and they have the opportunity to play and receive therapy in bright, cheerful surroundings.

Lily’s mural will add to that cheerfulness. Many of the children who come to Harbor House have experienced trauma or pain and many have must relate those dark experiences to law enforcement agencies. Something as simple as a bright and colorfully painted wall could help put them more at ease and add to their comfort.

“I came in for a consult and I showed them a rough sketch of what I had in mind,” she said. “They wanted light, bright colors and I came up with this vibrant scene. And I love painting animals so we made sure to incorporate lots of those as well.”

Using school-grade acrylic paint, brushes and even her hands for some of the work, Lily has spent several weeks at Harbor House bringing the colorful scene to life.

“I love that people will enjoy this mural long after I’m gone,” Lily said. “And it leaves room for your imagination. Maybe people who see it will picture themselves in this peaceful scene and it will make them feel better.”

Joe Costolnick, Harbor House executive director, said he’s very happy with the job Lily has done.

“It really brightens up this room,” he said. “It’ll be a great backdrop for the meetings we have in here. People from our various agencies come here for meetings and our board of directors meets here as well. But more importantly kids will use this room for play therapy sometimes so this mural will bring some peace and calm and a little sunshine to a lot of folks.”

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