Thad Taylor, 17, of Huntington, W. Va., a junior at Huntington High School, designed and installed a 54-foot-long tile mural at the entrance to a new childrens hospital in Huntington, so that scared children arriving at the facility would be greeted with a bright and cheerful river scene instead of just a gray concrete wall. Thad has participated in volunteer activities for most of his life, but wanted to find a project that was going to have a big impact in my community, he said, and one he could come back to in 20 years and show my children. He knew a new childrens hospital was being built, and figured a colorful mural at the entrance would be an ideal undertaking.
Starting almost three years ago, Thad convened more than 10 meetings with hospital officials and various professionals to come up with a plan. Then he created and constructed a blue-and-green mural design depicting a river flowing through grass, raised nearly $3,500, bought nearly 16,000 one-inch glass tiles and other supplies, and found a tile contractor willing to donate his time. Thad assisted the contractor with installing his mural, and recruited other volunteers to assist with other parts of the project, which Thad calls Tiles for Smiles. Said Thad: Sick children arriving at the hospital for painful tests, frightening treatments or intimidating surgeries will now see a wall that is bright, glittering, uplifting and happy, hopefully distracting their uneasiness and calming their fears, because it is dazzling.