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Lorraine Montgomery never dreamed she could paint, but after a few weeks in the Salisbury Police Department’s summer “Not Your Ordinary Masterpiece” art program, she wants to be an artist.
Montgomery, 14, was introduced to the program by Salisbury Police Officer Ann Cooper, who is the department’s youth crime prevention officer.
Cooper heads the summer program that meets a few times a week at three different Salisbury locations. Cooper meets with about 13 children at Civic Park Apartment complex on Hall Street, Pine Hills Apartment complex on West 15th Street and Miller Recreation Center at West Bank Street.
The program began with Police Chief Rory Collins’ desire to have a creative outlet for children during the summer. The program is held after the children eat lunch during a Rowan-Salisbury School System summer feeding program.
“One of our goals is to try to provide positive mentors to youth and help them see police officers in a different light,” Collins said.
Collins said he purposely set out to institute programs that would allow the opportunity to build relationships and establish trust in the community.
“I’m having fun and we get to make what we want to make,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery admits things are harder for her as a left-handed person and she believed because of that it would prevent her from being able to paint. She’d never painted before, but often draws animals like alligators and people.
Lorraine’s mother, Angele, allowed her daughter to participate in the program because she knew Lorraine liked to draw and thought the program would be a good fit.
Angele said she tries to keep Lorraine busy during the summer with creative things like art and reading.
“I think it’s real good for kids. It gives them something to do,” Angele said.
She said the program also keeps her daughter out of trouble.
John Lowe’s 11-year-old daughter, Taylor, also participates in the program.
“She loves to paint and she’s learning new tricks. Anything with art, she likes,” John said.
He hopes this is a program that is continued throughout the school year.
“I think it’s wonderful. It keeps them off the streets,” he said.
Lowe said his daughter is quite the couch potato, but this activity was something that got her off the computer and thinking creatively.
“I like it when she’s out and active. I hope she takes it and runs with it,” he said.
Taylor, who said she loves to paint, learned a few tricks before the program by watching known painter, Bob Ross. She came up with some of her ideas by watching old episodes of Bob Ross paint.
“I love to paint,” she said simply.
Cooper has worked with some of the children in other school programs like D.A.R.E or the Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program.
The officer said she’s pleased that the children are taking the skills they’ve learned back to their respective communities.
Cooper said the children will choose one of three pieces to be on display at the police department. The art pieces will be judged and the winner will receive a prize.
“I hope students and parents will come when I announce the winners,” Cooper said.
All of the students will receive something, Cooper said.
“It’s been an interesting experience. They are building their self-esteem,” Cooper said.
The officer said it’s also about teaching the children to have fun and learn about renown artists.
For more information about the Not Your Ordinary Masterpiece art program and other youth programs, contact Ann Cooper at 704-638-4463 or acoop@salisburync.gov.

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