Hand It On: Shana Tull with Project Paint the World Equal 2015

Hand It On: Paint the World Equally Project

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Their kids are going to grow up so well rounded and balanced. Shana Tull and her husband Stephen Short are raising two fantastic kids – Gaven McComes and Gabriel Short. And how they are teaching them to view the world is amazing. Other parents should take note.

Let's backtrack a moment. Shana Tull is a professional photographer in Denham Springs and owns Shana Tull Photography. Her good friend and fellow photographer, Amy Coston, sent me an e-mail detailing a crazy idea Shana had about bringing awareness of bullying to a new level.

Shana called Amy and another friend, Mandi Sanchez, and a few others, with a wild idea – to paint people's faces with 'body paint', then take pictures of them for an on-line slide show in hopes of bringing awareness to the fact bullying is not restricted to just kids in school. It happens in life! But the real pinnacle of Shana's project was the name: "Paint the World Equal: Behind the Paint We Are All The Same."

The date for Behind the Paint was selected – October 17, 2015. October, coincidentally, is National Bullying Prevention Month. So the friends began promoting the date and event through social networking – Facebook, Twitter – as well as word-of-mouth. None of them knew who, if anyone, would show up. So they had no idea how to prepare.

October 17, 2015 came and so did people – babies, families, elderly, best friends, couples, individuals – from all walks of life. The painting and photo shoots had to be extended into the next day because an overwhelming 300 plus showed up to support this incredible cause.

And the stories! There was laughter; there were tears; there was much hugging and exchanging of phone numbers; new, lasting relationships were bonded. So much was shared.

Like the breast cancer survivor embarrassed to be seen in public because chemo treatments had robbed her of her beautiful hair.

And the mother/son duo – an autistic 16-year old who refused to be photographed, not just this day but any day. Then as he saw others being painted, photographed, he warmed up to the idea and became a willing participant. His mom was stunned. He had never, ever been this open. Ever.

Shana had no idea the impact her campaign would have. After two days of painting and shooting, she put together a slide show that broke the internet for a day! People watched from all over the United States and at least three other countries.

This is why Amy Coston nominated Shana for Hand It On. So Amy and Mandi invited Shana and her family to Mandi's Denham home to talk about the project. WAFB was invited too.

I ask Shana why she was so passionate about this project; why did she do it.

"That's very simple," Shana began. "I am raising my boys to not judge the next person. It's not our place. Regardless of race, color, religion, disability, sexual preference or age. We are all equal," she concluded. After all, behind the paint, we are all equal. Right?

Then Amy approached Shana. "I have something for your project," Amy directed the comment to Shana. "This is a Hand It On segment with WAFB. I find that you and Mandi and Tiffany are all fully deserving of this and I'm very proud for everybody involved. I love ya," Amy's voice quivered.

Emotions, tears, hugs – there wasn't a dry eye in the living room.

Shana finally gathered herself together enough to squeak out a "thank you."

"This is amazing," Shana said, mascara running through tears. "The whole thing of it is, I just wanted our kids to be proud of us for what we did."

They are Shana, I assure you. We all are!!

You, too, can nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On spotlight. Send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Be sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.

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