Artist Paints Motivational Mural In Sebastian County Juvenile Detention Center

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- A place surrounded by gates and wire is now being turned into artwork as one London artist transforms the recreational yard at the Sebastian County Juvenile Detention Center as part of  The Unexpected project.

"This is our rec yard," said Cpl. Josh Hiedelberg, of the Sebastian County Sheriff's Office. "This is where we usually bring our incarcerated juveniles out to play basketball and work out."

Lakwena Mciver is the artist adding some color to the juvenile detention center.

"It's amazing, the fact that I've been welcomed here to do this," Mciver said. "I just hope that it will be an inspiration to the young people who will be here in the future and the ones who might go on to the adult prison."

The walls of the rec yard will feature the words, "Still I Rise," a message the author is hoping will inspire the kids here at the detention center.

"These words are from Maya Angelou," Mciver said. "[She's] talking about overcoming adversity, talking about rising above trials. I felt like that was really significant for the young people who might be here."

For Hiedelberg, he said helping give those kids a second chance is his top priority.

"I like to help them out," Cpl. Heidelberg said. "Even though they're incarcerated, they're not all bad kids. So, getting to come out and have hands-on help to change their lives, that's why I do what I do."

Maciver said she hopes once her project is complete, the kids will look at the room as a place of motivation.

"I'm hoping that someone maybe standing there will start staring and see, 'Still, still, still, still, I rise,' and maybe that will speak to them," Mciver said.

Mciver, along with volunteers, will use a mixture of basketball court material and paint to create a new flooring for the recreational yard.

For more about this project or The Unexpected, click here.