HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – Nearly two years after the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, a Colorado Girl Scout is using art to help the community to heal. Grace Bielefeldt, a senior at STEM School, has helped to bring a new art installation to the Northridge Recreation Center. It is where she and her classmates were taken and later reunited with their families following the tragic shooting at her school in May 2019.

“For a lot of people, I think myself included, the rec center has a lot of memories that aren’t necessarily good ones,” Bielefedlt said. “So I wanted to take this place to brighten it up a little bit, make it into something that isn’t necessarily a place of fear but a place of hope.”

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Bielefedlt said after the shooting that killed classmate Kendrick Castillo, she and her classmates were outside the rec center holding a vigil.

“A lot of my classmates came to the realization that the root of the problem that we had been forced to recognize was mental health,” she explained. “So I kind of took that and said ‘Okay, something needs to be done about this.'”

Working to get her Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts, she collaborated with local artist James Holmes to create a permanent art installation in remembrance of the shooting and to raise awareness about mental health. Bielefedlt said the piece is meant to symbolize different seasons of life, change and growth.

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“By working with him we were able to input a lot of symbolism and we’re also hoping it will have a connection with resources so people can access help or just know that they are seen,” she explained.

Bielefedlt said to make this happen, and earn her honors, she put more than 100 hours of work into the project. She hopes it becomes something that can help the community, just as the project itself has helped her.

“I’ve also considered it kind of a healing journey kind of thing for me,” she explained. “It’s kind of let me give back to the community but also come to terms with what happened, instead of sinking into this dark area I’m kind of creating something new.”

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The piece was unveiled during Mental Health Awareness Month but is a permanent fixture. You can view the art installation at the Northridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch.

Makenzie O'Keefe