By Ukee Washington


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Once a week, a group of teenagers meets at Kendrick Recreation Center in Roxborough to create beautiful works of art, and they’re spreading smiles around the world.

Paula Mandel guides young artists through the art of stained glass window-making, carefully.

“This is a very difficult process and a very dangerous process,” Paula said.

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About a dozen high school students from across Philadelphia are taking these classes once a week. They have learned to design a window, solder a metal frame, and cut glass to fit.

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“We say that this is a program ‘windows that open doors,'” said Joan Myerson Shrager, who, along with Paula, started the Stained Glass Project about 14 years ago for grades 9 to 12.

Every year, the windows are donated, sometimes locally, sometimes a world away. Last year, their artwork went to a school in Uganda.

“In this case, it’s Puerto Rico,” Joan said. “So we had a long talk about particularly the hurricane, Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico and what it’s like there.” Once finished, the windows will be displayed in a school there.

The young people took inspiration from the story of the island. One student chose glass with swirls of blues and greys: “I chose this to show (…) the storm. This is the storm for Hurricane Maria.”

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Some added their own touches: Brandon Wah made a window with a basketball and a Puerto Rican flag. Curtis Brooks added mirrors shaped like people so they will reflect the faces of people who see the window.

Some of the students have been coming here for four years. “When they leave in 12th grade, they’re a different person,” Paula said. “It fills my heart.”

The Stained Glass Project is part of a nonprofit. They are always happy to receive donations to pay for supplies.

Ukee Washington