A new mural, designed to both brighten up Family Court and to engage children, was unveiled May 5 at the Kent County Family Court.

Kent County children going through the often bewildering foster care system now have something new to smile about – and something that will give them inspiration.

A 20-foot-long mural, unveiled May 5 at Kent County Family Court, serves as a pictorial representation of a brighter life ahead for kids in foster care, said artist John Donato, of Lead Your Way Solutions.

The mural, titled “Choices Too,” was created youngsters who have experienced foster care, Donato said. Most are members of the Delaware Youth Advisory Council.

The YAC was formed with the goal of helping children who age out of the foster care system make a successful transition to adult life.

The colorful painting is a roadmap, developed by foster children for their peers, Donato said.

“It’s not adults telling them what to do. We’ve got other foster children telling them their experiences and giving all the wisdom they have.”

Lead Your Way Solutions helps people and organizations develop leadership skills and gives them the tools to find success, Donato said. Funded by the Delaware Bar Association, the mural is the second to be placed in a Delaware Family Court building; a similar work is in place in Sussex County and a third is planned for New Castle.

Family Court Judge Mardi Pyott gets to look at the mural every day – it’s been installed on the rear wall of her courtroom, directly opposite her bench.

Pyott, who helped chaperone the weeklong project, was encouraged by the ability of the children to share their experiences with others. It’s like they’re giving a little piece of themselves to others, she said.

The mural depicts a roadway through winding hills, beginning at a little house surrounded by sleeping flowers. As it moves from left to right, it shows life’s bumps and obstacles along the way, until it arrives at a colorful rainbow, complete with smiling flowers and the message, “Life is a journey with choices along the way. I will choose them well.”

“It starts kind of dark, but gets brighter and brighter,” Pyott noted.

The painting represents the dreams and goals foster children need, the struggles they may face and the choices they must make to achieve those goals.

A central figure is a scarecrow, which represents deviations from the goal, an easy way out of problems and the effects of bad decisions made along the day, Donato said.

But there’s also the judge herself – Pyott represented as a smiling black-robed bird on a skateboard – who shows a way past those distractions.

For some of the children who created the mural, the ability to look forward already has found its reward: two have received art scholarships from the Dover Art League to help develop their talent, Pyott said.

And looking forward is pretty much what this mural represents, she added.

“A lot of times, kids can’t express themselves in words,” Pyott said. “If nothing else, I can get them to talk and this can serve as a tool for communication.

“All of these kids come from very challenging situations,” she said. “My goal for them is to be successful.”