WACO, TX — Waco High School has unveiled their new mosaic. It sits on the steps of the high school to raise awareness for domestic violence and a Waco High graduate that was shot and killed last year.
21-year-old Sakyra Young had been dating her boyfriend, 20-year-old Michael Matthew Howard, for three years. In August 2020, he allegedly shot her to death while she was driving. Today she is remembered through a new mosaic, with hopes the art will help others who may be hurting like Young was.
One in four women and one in nine men are in a severe intimate partner physical violence relationship, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
LaToya Wells, Young's mother, held back tears as they unveiled the mosaic.
"I was really trying to hold myself together, because it’s emotional. It is," she said.
Wells knew her daughter was in an abusive relationship and did all she could to get her out of it, but something kept pulling Young back in.
"I literally did everything and anything I could do to get my daughter out of that relationship," she said "He [Howard] took my daughter down literally, spiritually, from the inside out, killed her years ago."
Communities in Schools (CIS) brought the idea to Waco High art students to create a project that would show others they aren't alone.
"If you are a victim of domestic violence or if you have a friend or anyone that you know that is a victim of domestic violence, please report it. Please help them to get out," said Charmion Fletcher, Waco High CIS Coordinator.
They chose a mosaic for its longevity but also what it represents. You'll see broken plates and tiles to represent a broken home or broken life. White and purple rocks then line the walk way up to the front doors of the high school to represent peace.
"Each purple rock that you see here, one of our students have pledged to be against teen domestic violence," Fletcher added.
Waco High art student Jade Moncrief is a sophomore and says working on this piece hit close to home.
"I really love the idea of it. I have gone through sexual assault, so it kinda resonated with me on a personal level," Moncrief said.
A lot of the art projects and murals students get to paint are usually done within the school, but this one being on the front steps is exciting.
"I think the front of the school was a really cool idea because everyone gets to see it. We've done stuff out here before, never anything long lasting, but I think it puts the message to everyone," Moncrief said.
Wells is blown away by the amount of support she has received from family, friends and the district. She uses her strength to help others, talking about her story and letting people know they aren't alone.
"I’m glad that they’re making more women aware that we too stand with you guys. We know that it’s not right," she said. "I would hate for any other mother to go through what I’m still going through right now."
Wells is creating a scholarship in honor of Sakyra called Forever Young. If you would like to donate to the scholarship, you can do so by visiting the Community Bank and Trust in Waco or visiting the Forever Young Scholarship website.
There will also be a fundraiser on March 20, which is Young's birthday.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic or intimate partner violence, you can find support and resources 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.