High School Students Learn Life Lessons Through Artists for Humanity

While many high schoolers are working summer jobs, some are producing masterpieces and learning life lessons along the way.

Meleeza Pires is right at home painting, but it wasn't always that way. The 15-year-old started learning to paint two years ago.

"I don't know what I would be doing if I wasn't here, I really have no idea," Pires said. "I found myself here."

Pires is one of hundreds of Boston-area high school students to apply for, and be accepted by, Artists for Humanity, a South Boston non-profit that pairs students with mentors, teaching them artistic skills and life lessons.

Student artists are paid $11 an hour. They also get up to a 50 percent commission every one of their pieces of art sells.

"Just having 3 paintings sell in one night, I would have never expected that," Pires said.

Jason Evan Talbot helped start Artists for Humanity in the early 1990s. Since then, hundreds of students have attended.

"When I found art, I was able to look at myself and my future and who I was in a totally different way," Talbot said.

He now spends his time passing on the same wisdom.

"They get this great infusion of creativity and respect and even some money in their pocket to make good life decisions," Talbot said. "It opens their eyes to a lot of possibilities a lot of teens are blind too."

"I was pretty lost," Miles Wheeler said.

Wheeler, a junior at Needham High School, now wants to study art in college.

"It's amazing, it's changed me," Wheeler said. "It helped me find out who I am and what I want to do with all the resources that they gave me."

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