State Street Project building transformed to reflect youth inside

Posted at 5:51 PM, May 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-31 18:51:43-04

A simple coat of paint, transforming a community.

"The physical transformation of the building really reflects the internal transformation that many of the youth have had," Tawnya Metzler-Martinez says.  She's the executive director for State Street Project at 9th & State in Kansas City, Kansas.

"A lot of people drive past here all the time because it's been here since 1920s," she said.

More than 90 gallons of paint were donated to revitalize the State Street Project building. Bright yellows, reds, and blues now color the old walls.

A little bit of "green" will help too. PPG Paints donated the paint and $20,000 to boost State Street's youth programs. PPG employees from the Kansas City area helped with the huge project.

"It looked pretty old," Jeremiah Boykin said.

But to kids like Jeremiah, who go to State Street after school and in the summer, the way it looked never really mattered.

They go there for art, dance, carpentry classes, job skills, sports, and more.

It's a safe place to go when sometimes their world isn't all that comforting.

"We are in Wyandotte County and unfortunately a lot of people in Wyandotte County, they focus more on the fact that we are the poorest county in the state," Metzler-Martinez said.  "We don't look at what we don't have, we look at what we have."

State Street started in an apartment complex and grew to the old Wyandotte Gymnasium building last year.  Now they have two indoor soccer fields, space for art, a dance studio, and classrooms. They partner with the Eric Berry Foundation. 

Programs are free and open to youth 14 and up, but sometimes their younger siblings can come. Some kids have been involved for eight years.

"All these kids want is someone to connect with, someone to talk to, someone they can trust. So that's what State Street is," Metzler-Martinez said.  "Anytime you can physically change the environment around you, you have an impact on the behavior and the mood."

"I think it's great. And it's colorful, and it'll make kids want to come here," Boykin said.

Find out more about State Street Project here.