Harris' Heroes: #CommonGround uses art to combat neighborhood crime

Common Ground uses art to combat neighborhood crime. Photo by Common Ground 2008 “Turning Point” painted mural; Montgomery County / Prince Georges County border, MD

Common Ground uses art to combat neighborhood crime. Photo by Common Ground 2008 “Turning Point” painted mural; Montgomery County / Prince Georges County border, MD

SILVER SPRING, Md. (ABC7) — It wasn’t long ago that parents in the Silver Spring neighborhood known as Quebec Terrace didn’t feel it was safe for children to play outside. But inside a small community YMCA, young residents are working to improve their neighborhood.

It’s a program called Common Ground, run by the nonprofit Arts on the Block.

The youth are making mosaic-tiled stepping stones that will become part of a rain garden.

Previous projects have included illuminated mosaic address plaques, painted windows, and the largest project, a pair of mosaic staircases leading into the community.

In the process, the young artists learn leadership and teamwork skills, and they gain self-confidence.

“We’re using our own creativity, expressing it,” says 11-year-old Montserrat Esquivel.

Adds 12-year-old Jefferson Umanzor, “It makes me feel good. It makes me feel excited.”

Seventeen-year-old Dee Lam has been a part of Common Ground since eighth grade and now is a teen mentor.

“It’s everybody’s artwork. It’s like part of the neighborhood and I’m just proud about being in the Y,” says Lam.

Click here to read more from WJLA.