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Volume 24, Number 10 — October 2017

Highlands Mentoring Center gets a Makeover

The murals were created by Brian Knickerbocker, a counselor in the children's interchange education programat Highlands Community Services.
The murals were created by Brian Knickerbocker, a counselor in the children's interchange education programat Highlands Community Services.

October 13, 2007

BRISTOL, Va. — A few weeks ago the mentoring center at Highlands Community Services was a traditional office space with typical industrial white walls and commercial carpet. Today, thanks to mentors and kids the room is warm and inviting with three murals on the walls and vivid colors everywhere.

"This is where our mentors can bring the kids they are working with, after school to do homework, play games or just hang out and talk. It was important that it be colorful and energizing and fun," said
Angie Counts, manager of the HCS mentoring program on Oakview Avenue In Bristol, Va.

The kids had a say in the theme of the artwork — one wall depicts the historic Paramount Theatre. Rugs with contemporary geometric design define functional areas. One corner is strictly for girls, with funky, lime bubble chairs and a deep sofa. A big-screen TV dominates another corner, complete with state-of-the-art DVD player, electronic games, and wall-placed speakers.

If that's not entertainment enough, there is a brand new air hockey/pool table, computers and board games. Although the revamped mentoring center was a collaborative effort, the murals were designed and painted by Brian Knickerbocker, a counselor at the Interchange program and Shawn Miller, children's program director.

"The mentoring program is designed for kids with behavioral challenges. Some kids need help in social skills, other just need some encouragement from a stable adult," said Shawn Miller. The agency currently serves 53 kids from ages 4 to 17.