Teenage artist inspired by mission trip to Haiti - WSMV Channel 4

Teenage artist inspired by mission trip to Haiti

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Blair Ely, a St. Cecilia Academy graduate, has an unusual daily morning destination.

The 18-year-old spends 10 minutes at the garbage dumpster canvassing for cardboard.

"Ya know, the smell kind of gets you, but that part really reminds you of Haiti," she said.

Haiti is in her heart and in her art. A mission trip opened her eyes to the poverty and the need for help in Haiti.

But her discovery went beyond the obvious.

"Haiti is not all teary-eyed children and garbage piles, it's beautiful, and there's a spirit there. We need to not pity it but respect it and love it for what it is," Ely said.

The visits to Haiti inspired her to do more, and now Ely along with her sister and a friend, together with Nashville's Catholic church, help run a dental clinic in a small Haitian town that is a Pay it 4Ward difference maker.

The artwork she makes back home is just one more way to raise awareness, all created with cardboard and care.

"You're starting with something that came from the trash, but it's so beautiful and it's transformed through the spirit of these people who are really amazing, and we don't give them credit," Ely said.

Ely is off to college in a few weeks, where she'll enroll at Emory University in Atlanta.

Her foundation, the Happy Haiti Project, continues full steam. Click here for more information.

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