Once upon a wall: Incredible mural employee painted by employee at Zach’s Place

By Published On: January 12, 2024
An employee is painting a wall with Disney characters, creating a colorful mural.

By Maggy Wolanske, FOX21 News | Posted Jan 12, 2024 / 8:32PM MST

January 12, 2024, Colorado Springs, CO — Since 1998, Zach’s Place at The Laurie Hillyard Family Center has helped Southern Colorado families receive the care and support they need. The facility brings a fun and safe learning environment designed for children with disabilities, along with welcoming their siblings inside.

“We are one of a kind and really we are the only spot like us here in Colorado,” Program Director of Zach’s Place, Krista Ingram said. “We service children 2.5 to 18 with disabilities and we also do take typical kids, a lot of the time. We like to bring in their peers, or their sisters and brothers, to make it more comfortable for them to adjust to the changes and stuff here.”

Back in August, Zach’s Place greeted a new employee, Katrina Jackson, who was eager to begin her career in childcare and to help families in Southern Colorado.

“When we come in here, we make sure the kids have a good time, make sure that they’re fed, taken care of so that way parents can go do what they need to do,” Jackson said. “So not only does it help the parents, but it also helps me get time with children, which is something that I don’t usually get.”

An employee is painting a wall with Disney characters, creating a colorful mural.

The walls inside of the gym at Zach’s Place were once blank, but now one no longer is.

What Jackson would soon realize is the job would also bring out her artistic abilities and leave marks behind of childhood memories.

“When I first started, the walls were all white,” Jackson stated. “We had the mats and everything for the kids to play on and we do get donations for other toys and stuff as well. So, there’s more stuff coming in all the time for the kids to be able to enjoy and the first day that I was here, they were trying to figure out what to do with the walls.”

In the gym play area, the walls were bare white just like a brand-new canvas, inviting Jackson to unleash her imagination and let it soar.

“Once they found out that I was able to do artistic things, I was tasked with the wall,” Jackson said. “We decided to go with Disney, because that’s part of my childhood, one of the biggest things of mine. So I figured that it’d be a good thing to bring in here, especially with all the colors for the kids.”

At Zach's Place, an employee assists a woman and a child in painting a mural filled with Disney characters on the wall.

One of the characters still going through creation is Olaf which his outline painted on Friday morning.

Bright hues of colors along with fairytale classic make this a Magic Kingdom Mural that the children love.

“The kids will come in with every little section that she does,” Ingram said. “They’ll come into something different and something new, and they get so excited when they see it, they come, and they point it out. A lot of those kids, they get too overstimulated out there. They can come in here and they will hyperfocus on certain characters, which will get them to calm themselves.”

Katrina Jackson works away from corner to corner to bring her imagination to life.

While these characters closely resemble their movie fame, it is all thanks to the talent and determination that Jackson works with.

“I’ll just pull up a photo on my phone and just kind of go from there,” Jackson said. “So, you’ll see me looking down a lot and then going over and then looking down a lot and going over some placements where a little bit harder than others.”

When Katrina Jackson has free time, she spends it adding new creations to the Disney mural which she started in August.

There are some favorite designs, like Moana, and Bruce from Finding Nemo, that receive the most smiles.

“They’ll run up, they’ll point out characters,” Jackson said. “Some of them will tell you who the characters are and they’ll ask a lot of question, so if they don’t know who it is or what it is you’ll hear, what’s that or who’s that, and just the fact that they’re so interactive with it, it just makes me happy to see them excited.”

While final touches are still underway with more characters added to the wall, Jackson is hopeful to finish up the mural by the end of January. During her time working on the masterpiece, she has posted her work on TikTok and said to contact her over social media if you are interested in having her create something for you.

A group of children are painting a mural at Zach's Place with Disney characters.

Two little girls eagerly watched as Jackson added a new character to the one-of-a-kind mural.

Special Kids Special Families is a non-profit organization helping families in the Pikes Peak Region. The organization offers several programs beyond Zach’s Place, including an adult day programresidential living services, and foster care services. Head over to their website for more details on the work they are doing.

“We are always accepting kids,” Ingram said. “We do not have a waitlist and we also are very, very open to any donations, everything we get pretty much is donations. We’re a nonprofit and that’s how we function and we truly appreciate the community’s help.”

Next time when visiting Zach’s Place, don’t forget to take a peek to spot Mickey Mouse and his crew filling the wall from corner to corner.