Embrace Alabama Kids unveils mural in Montgomery  

A traveling mural made an appearance in Tuscaloosa last month. Now, the completed project has been unveiled in the state’s capital. 

Monica Nakashima, Contributing Writer

Embrace Alabama Kids, a faith-based nonprofit that supports children and families in crisis across Alabama, recently unveiled two murals in Montgomery. 

One of the murals was a “traveling showcase” constructed from nine wooden panels. Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Mobile each received three panels to paint that Embrace unveiled as one mural in Montgomery. 

An Embrace organizer described the traveling mural as a way to “unite communities and generations.” It was a way to raise awareness for Embrace Alabama Kids week from April 11-17, which Governor Kay Ivey signed into law in March. 

Rebecca Morris, Embrace’s senior vice president of external affairs, said the three cities were chosen because of their great support for the nonprofit. 

“We are 131 years old, so we are very deep-rooted in Alabama,” Morris said. “We knew that part of our rebrand really needed to connect with our communities, and we chose to do that through art.”

Local artists painted one side of the mural and community members painted the designs sketched on the opposite. The designs featured key landmarks from each city, including Denny Chimes, Sloss Furnaces and the RSA Tower. 

Luke Powell, Embrace’s foster care program manager for North Alabama, said the turnout at the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk was great. Both families and college students participated. 

While the mural painted in Tuscaloosa and other cities was collaborative, the Montgomery mural was a solo project. That mural was revealed in the capital as a permanent installment located on the side of a Kyser Property Management building downtown. 

Local artists and entrepreneurs from the King’s Canvas and 21 Dreams painted the building mural, which depicts children and parents with Embrace’s logo in the center. 

About 100 people attended the unveiling event in the capital, including Mayor Steven Reed. While the mayors of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham couldn’t attend, they recorded a video for the organization’s Facebook page. 

Morris and Powell said it was important to unite the cities with the project since the organization serves children from every county in Alabama. 

“We find it very important to thank the people that have been supporting us because we cannot do this without individual and church support,” Morris said.

Community members and donors supported the organization under its previous name, the United Methodist Children’s Home, but Embrace wants to promote its new name and mission statement. 

In previous years, United Methodist would take in children who lost one or both parents and temporarily rehome them in a safe environment. Embrace is now focused on taking in children from neglectful or abusive households. 

“We provide them with stability they’ve never had, as well as basic necessities to help them develop spiritually, emotionally and academically,” Morris said. “So, it’s not just a home. It’s a full embrace.” 

Powell said the likelihood of a child staying in the foster care system is high, so Embrace is working on several family preservation programs. Currently, there isn’t a program like this in Tuscaloosa.

The collaborative mural will travel throughout the state, showcasing the foster care organization. More information about Embrace Alabama Kids and where the mural is heading next can be found on Facebook and Instagram.