Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sulphur Springs youth create murals to support Community Stepping Stones

The mural on the Sulphur Springs Theater was created by Community Stepping Stones. The nonprofit uses art to improve the lives of at-risk teens in the Tampa neighborhood.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times (2010)

The mural on the Sulphur Springs Theater was created by Community Stepping Stones. The nonprofit uses art to improve the lives of at-risk teens in the Tampa neighborhood.

Trey Fitzgerald remembers the day he and the other Community Stepping Stones students made papier-mache musical instruments and staged an air band concert.

And he also recalls how they crafted a giant squirrel with a blond wig.

Lakeema Matthew still laughs about Bob, a lifelike work she helped produce with other students. With the lights off, you couldn't tell if Bob was real or fake.

"He used to scare me," Matthew laughed.

They also could point to more serious works they helped produce at Community Stepping Stones, a nonprofit that uses art to shape the lives of at-risk teens in Tampa's Sulphur Springs neighborhood.

They have played a role in the creation of three significant murals created by Community Stepping Stones students, and want to do more — for the right price.

The first, You + Me = Community, at Tampa's Rowlett Park featured various images of women. When someone noted it only included ladies, the kids responded, "Exactly."

"Women play a huge role in the neighborhood," Matthew said. "The fathers are not in our lives. It's the grandmamas and the mamas that take care of you."

Added Fitzgerald: "My mom has a hard time raising two kids in a single-parent home. We're thankful for all the strong moms. We wanted something to show the strength of those women instead of mourning for a lack of a father."

Exactly became the name of the second mural at Rowlett.

Matthew, 21, and Fitzgerald, 18, speak about their Stepping Stones experiences with the flourishes of a critic and the wisdom of a professor.

Those fun pieces and the murals embody not just joyous days, but the lessons they learned about following your passions, dealing with anger and handling the expectations of a world that can be too real.

"These memories are really important to my childhood," Fitzgerald said. "A lot of kids may not get the opportunity to have the kind of memories we got from Community Stepping Stones."

To help prevent that from happening, Fitzgerald and Matthew have joined the staff to promote a new social enterprise for the nonprofit: creating murals for businesses the same way they created murals for public places.

It's called Artistic Mural Messaging, and any business that wants to redecorate one of its outdoor walls with a captivating image can sign up.

Not only will the business get stunning work for an amazing price, but it can help the kids earn money that can compensate for the shrinking pool of government support and grant dollars.

The money will provide for the next generation of teens who need to learn the same lessons that have helped Fitzgerald become a budding musician and moved Matthew to within a few classes of getting a graphic arts degree from Hillsborough Community College.

Community Stepping Stones kicks off the effort with an interactive gallery from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Ybor City HCC Art Gallery, Palm Avenue and 14th Street. Go to for more info.

The show is entitled, "Paint the Possible," and the latest mural from the kids features a spectacular rainbow.

It's appropriate when you realize a business can help instill a brand of hope that represents an endless array of possibilities.

That's all I'm saying.

Sulphur Springs youth create murals to support Community Stepping Stones 07/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 10:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.