Watch CBS News

Pittsburgh Builds Bridges uses art to bring people from all walks of life together | KD Sunday Spotlight

KD Sunday Spotlight: Pittsburgh Builds Bridges
KD Sunday Spotlight: Pittsburgh Builds Bridges 02:45

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - How do you build bridges between people? 

This simple question motivates Ebtehal Badawi with every interaction and her artwork through her non-profit. Her artwork began when someone on her son's hockey team made a racist comment to him.

"Then they eventually apologized to him, the same year I saw a Syrian refugee was beaten up in one of the high schools in Pittsburgh," said Badawi.

After both incidents, she thought what can she do to help bring people together? 

The answer lay in art. 

In 2021, her first Pittsburgh Builds Bridges painting came to Pleasant Hills Middle School.

"I chose different colors of skin and I have the fists to represent that everyone is proud of who they are," said Badawi. Each fist has a different symbol for a different religion over a Pittsburgh bridge, which brings us together.

Pittsburgh Builds Bridges paintings are now at 40 different locations across our region and many of the paintings are a collaboration with over 5,000 people picking up a brush over the years.

"It's ok, let me show you, just one brush stroke and they start painting and they say 'Can we paint more?'" Badawi said.

It brings people together emotionally and physically and it opens up conversation, especially around unity. 

Don't believe us? Just ask these Pleasant Hills Middle School students yourself. Most of them painted pictures in 5th grade and KDKA stopped by when they were gathering to paint again.

We asked them what kind of message they took away from this experience.

"If we do it as a group, we can do great things," said 7th-grade Pleasant Hills Middle School student Cole Daily.

Gina Gudukis, who's also a 7th grader at Pleasant Hills Middle School said "No matter where you come from, it's good to come together."

"If people are feeling discouraged or being bullied, they can see this and see that people actually care about them," said student Abby Nagel. 

7th grader, Luke Volk added, "Try to make friends, don't be mean to people, show everyone respect and empathy."

The paintings are displayed wherever they're completed and it's touching people from all walks of life.

"It's heartwarming to hear someone telling me their personal stories," said Badawi.

The conversations and art, send a message that we're all in this together.

Last year, Pittsburgh Builds Bridges had its first annual event at the Highmark stadium parking lot. They had thirteen performers from various cultures, twenty vendors, and a kickoff walk. 

This year, they want to celebrate it on one of our cities' bridges in August. An exact date and location are still in the works. 

For more information on this non-profit check out their website right here

If you would like to see an organization highlighted in KDKA's Sunday Spotlight segment, send Megan Shinn an email at!

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.