NEWARK, NJ - About three years ago, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey with local volunteers began to plan working on a mural with renowned Newark artist Rodney Gilbert. 

The girls wanted a mural that showcased women empowerment after Gilbert and his organization, Yendor Productions, worked with other community groups on a two-story mural in the South Ward. But Gilbert would pass away about a year later. 

Now, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey is reviving the idea and expanding it from just one mural to five. Starting this Saturday, the Girls Scouts and other groups will paint the first of five murals throughout all five of the city’s wards. 

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“We need to continue this and we need to see this project through,” said Vicki Fernandez, a Girl Scout volunteer serving on the planning team.

Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey is teaming up with Newark Thrives!, Arts Ed Newark and other artists from Yendor Productions to make the murals possible. 

Residents can register for free and join in painting with the Girl Scouts at Mildred Helms Park on July 13 at 10 a.m. The event will run until 5 p.m. 

Yasmin DeJesus, a Newark-based artist and Arts High School graduate, will lead the painters. DeJesus has painted several murals since 2010, including one on Lower Broadway. 

“We wanted to make sure we also had representation that would inspire the girls to think about this kind of work for themselves or see themselves in the artists that were making this work,” said Fernandez. 

Each mural will include a line from the Girl Scout’s Promise. The first mural will feature girls flying through space and swimming. Another mural slated for the Ironbound will feature a painting of Kayla Matos, a young Girl Scout from Newark who died about two years ago while swimming in Toms River. 

Different themes for the murals will be decided based on input from the artist leading the painting team and community groups from each respective ward, Fernandez said. Each mural will also have a QR code that links people to the Newark Thrives! website for information on activities for children during the summer months. 

The first mural in the South Ward will be made in partnership with BRICK Education Network, the City of Newark, Mildred Helms Park Resurrection Committee, Teach for America, Trust for Public Land and Unified Parks. The locations and dates of additional paints are still being determined, Fernandez said. 

The months-long program received financial help through a Newark Arts grant. The Girl Scouts are still looking for donations to make the program possible in all five wards and are in need of a boom lift with a basket to reach taller parts of buildings.

Registration to join in the paint is free and open to the public. To learn more, visit Eventbrite.