Compass Youth Group Featured in Street Painting Festival

Photo credit: Lake Worth Street Painting Festival, Via Facebook

This year’s Lake Worth Street Painting Festival featured dozens of local artists hunched over in the Florida sun perfecting their chalk renditions of actors, animals, landscapes, and more. 

 Some artists took a simpler route in order to make a statement — including the Compass’ youth group. Right outside the Lake Worth Public Library, the youth group decorated the street with a transgender flag-colored compass against a rainbow backdrop. Instead of a compass’ traditional ‘N,’ ‘E,’ ‘S,’ and ‘W,’ this version had ‘L,’ ‘O,’ ‘V,’ ‘E.’

“The compass is a sign of finding your way, which a lot of youth find that here,” said Compass’ Transgender Youth Coordinator Lucas O’Ryan. 

The youth group has been participating in the festival for over seven years. Past works have included eagles, flowers, and hearts with most of them incorporating LGBT colors, said 14-year-old youth group member Chris Watkins.

“I think [the transgender flag] is really important due to the fact that we’re being denied our existence,” Watkins said. Painting the colors on the pavement for the hundreds of visitors to see is a way for the trans community to be acknowledged, Watkins added. 

O’Ryan said that the festival is one of the biggest events of the year for the youth group — which is why they start planning their design months in advance. This year, he said, at least nine or ten different ideas were considered. 

After about eight hours of work split between the weekend, the group was proud of the outcome. Although the teens see each other two days a week at Compass, some appreciated the opportunity to collaborate on something outside the community center’s walls. 

“It’s a way to work together on a project and see how it all comes together,” said 16-year-old youth group participant Grim Ayala. 

Several other young faces contributed to the festival this year. One of the event’s initiatives is its “Young Artists Studio,” which highlights the abilities of elementary, middle, and high school students from over 25 South Florida schools, according to their website. The free annual event lasted from Saturday morning through Sunday night.