Students help to improve their school

August 25, 2008 1:55:09 PM PDT
P.S. 396 in the Bronx is getting a touch-up. Over the last few years the school has been painted in vibrant, kid-appealing colors, but now the building is showing some wear and tear.

"Some peoole think it's just painting, but I look at it as this speaks to the way we really feel about this school and I want the message to be clear, that we care," principal Lawrence Wright said.

The painters are New York City public school kids. The make-over is courtesy of Publicolor. The non-profit recruits students to paint common areas in schools located mostly in low-income neighborhoods.

Its mission is to create an environment where kids want to stay and learn.

"Feeling some ownership of the space where you go to school, feeling a part of the community, a contributor to the community," Joe Ayala of Publicolor explained.

Many of the students on the job today have been with Publicolor for more than a year.

Students who advance in Publicolor can take part in enrichment programs like the one here at Pratt Institute where they're learning about design .

The program also offers tutoring and helps with applying to college.

While advanced level students get paid a stipend, most of the kids are volunteers who give their free time to make their school a better place.

Most of the painting is done in city schools, but some kids in the Publicolor program also paint homeless shelters, police stations and other community buildings.

For more information on Publicolor, visit its website at

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