Mural Arts in Philly changing lives of children, ex-cons

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Thanks to the help of the Philadelphia Mural Arts program - 40,000 at-risk children have been redirected and 500 ex-cons have been reclaimed from the streets. (WPVI)

Philadelphia is now adorned with 3,800 murals on buildings, bridges and highways - giving the city the world's largest outdoor art gallery.

The murals and adjacent landscaping are often the catalyst for transforming struggling neighborhoods.

Suddenly people start picking up trash and repainting their homes again.

But there's more to it than bricks and mortar.

The subtext is that 40,000 at-risk children have been redirected and 500 ex-cons have been reclaimed from the streets.

We spoke with two convicted drug dealers and a convicted murderer who are now law-abiding, tax-paying artists.

"I went from being a number and an inmate to covered in paint, doing something that I love to do and giving back in a positive way," said Amira Mohamed.

"If it wasn't for them, I don't know where I would be right now. I could be locked up somewhere or anything else," said Raheem Camp.

"The streets, real negative, in and out of jail - I was a drug dealer and was going no where. Mural Arts changed my life," said Russell Craig.

A new Study by Yale University shows stunning proof that they're not the exception.

Only 10 percent of former prisoners now in Mural Arts are convicted of new crimes.

That's 6.6 times better than the national recidivism rate.

And 100 percent of at-risk children in Mural Arts graduate from high school - which is double Philadelphia's high school graduation rate.

"Everyone is finding this really fascinating because we are seeing an impact. We have data that shows us that we are moving the needle and that is really thrilling," said Jane Golden, Mural Arts executive director.

Now Philadelphia is helping London, Rome, Dublin, Madrid, Sydney, Auckland, Toronto, Montreal and Israel start identical programs.

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