Altoona man opens business to help youth escape violence

Local News

BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)–When driving down the streets of Altoona, resident Christopher Brown stumbled on an open shop on Fourth Ave. He knew then that’s where he would begin his business.

Brown opened the store Reds Paint Sip and Eats two months ago. However, he wants this store to have a message and purpose behind it. That purpose is to have a space for teens and children to express themselves without turning to violence.

In his place, children and adults can come and paint as much as they please. Chris believes that painting is a positive way of expressing children’s feelings. He hopes to provide mentorship and guidance to the youth.

“After school, I would be seeing them, and it’s like they have no vision,” Brown said. “I want to present guidance, someone to come and talk to that knows about them and can relate to them.”

Besides painting, kids and teens can come and use the chalk or play outside in their courtyard. Chris’s girlfriend, Jessica Gilmore, said she loved the idea. She agreed with Chris’s purpose and the importance of acceptance of one another.

“It’s all about inclusion; that’s what it comes down to,” Gilmore said. “We want everybody to feel love and acceptance, and we want to share our love with others. So, I actually adore this idea.”

Jessica’s daughters, Aniyia and Kamara, experienced bullying during their time in school. They cope with those incidents by painting, dancing, and writing out their thoughts. They see other children their ages using painting as an alternative therapy.

“Usually, it brings out a person’s personality, and if they don’t talk about it, they can just paint it,” Aniyia said. “They can do anything they want to their painting, and it’s mostly very fun.”

“It brings out the expression everybody’s feeling,” Kamara said. “You just paint what you feel. It’s actually really fun, and I just love it!”

Chris grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and knows the struggles youth face when in bad situations. It was not long ago when he found painting. His newest creation is of him standing in front of his place with the message, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’

“This painting means so much to me,” Brown said. “What happened is that I drove by this place, and I saw it, and it said for rent, and I just saw myself in it. I just drew myself right in front of it and wrote ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Reds Paint Sip and Eats is not just meant for kids; adults can also come and paint. He plans to hold comedy nights, karaoke, and open mic nights. On Sundays, veterans and elders will enjoy everything for free.

Chris’s son, Christain Brown, is proud of his dad’s work with the shop. He hopes that kids will pick up the message behind the store.

“I hope that they get like a good time and a good experience,” Christain said. “I hope they come back. I hope they just know that they can be free, and they don’t have to be nervous or shy about anything. They can be open.”

Reds Paint Sip and Eats is open every day from 12 p.m to 12 a.m. Daily prices for painting are $20 for adults, $15 for teens, and $10 for children.

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