FRANKLIN — A community collaboration could make a big impact on kids in Johnson County.
As the city of Franklin gets decked out for the holiday season, one hallway in the area is getting a fresh new look as well.
Busy hands are painting a mural inside of the Johnson County Prosecutors Office in Franklin.
“Lots of mountains with forest scenes with animals and we are also going to have on the walls you are believed,” Kimberly Hoffman, the project coordinator, said.
Hoffman is part of the Leadership Johnson County class and also on Creative Council.
She went looking for a community project for her class and stumbled upon another idea from local trauma advocacy coordinator, Tracy McQueen.
McQueen is a part of ASSIST Indiana. It is a small organization looking to make a big impact on the lives of people affected by trauma in Johnson County and nine other counties.
McQueen has walked down this hallway in the Prosecutors Office several times with children preparing to testify about unthinkable events in their lives.
“It’s just, it’s all white. If I feel like, oh this is scary, then I can only imagine what, and I look at their reactions,” McQueen said. “They are looking back and forth at the walls and they are paying attention to their surroundings as they go down there.”
McQueen said she has seen the impact a bright, colorful mural can have on boosting the spirits of children during this difficult time in their lives. She has also seen what words of affirmation can do to help the kids after putting up some art on the walls in their waiting area.
“We put up pictures of words and what was so unique about that was the kids couldn’t read when they came in, that was another thing, if they couldn’t read the parents would read those words, you are special you are beautiful and the kids would just light up,” McQueen said. “We want them to feel seen, heard, known, that they are amazing, they are wonderful, tough, kind. I could go on. But the biggest thing most of all, we want them to know they are believed.”
And Hoffman echoes that sentiment.
“It’s really important for these children to know someone hears their story and someone believes their story,” Hoffman said. “That they are loved and that they are cared for.”
The mural is truly a community effort in Franklin. Not only are groups like Leadership Johnson County, Creative Council and ASSIST Indiana teaming up with the Johnson County Prosecutors Office to make this happen, but they also received a grant to fund it through Johnson County REMC.
“This project just demonstrates how a village can come together, for a great cause, do great work, make a difference in the lives of kids, and hopefully leave a positive lasting impression,” McQueen said.
ASSIST Indiana has specialized therapists, victims advocates, and various support groups available to people in need. They also offer educational training on topics like violence prevention. If you or someone you know needs support, you can contact Assist Indiana online or by calling 317-739-4456.