Laurie Libman-Wilson Founder & CEO, Studio Penny Lane
Every time I find a penny, I think of my dear friend Conrad Morales who is truly my Penny From Heaven. I am reminded that many things will happen in life that we do not have control over. But it is how we choose to respond that determines how we feel, how we live, and how we affect others. I am grateful for the opportunity to have known Conrad and for the inspiration to create Studio Penny Lane: this would not have been if our paths had not crossed. Studio Penny Lane was founded in memory and in honor of the Morales family; may it shed some light on an unspeakable tragedy. One penny, one child, one thought at a time.
Studio Penny Lane was created to promote a global educational movement fostering Mindful Awareness for children. The goal is to positively reset the direction of how we teach our children by eliminating patterns of negativity, fear, and helplessness, and to replace them with the tools to love without condition, dream courageously, and recognize and nurture each child’s true gifts. Our intention is to empower youth to create positive change in their own lives and ultimately their families, schools, communities, and the world.
The genesis of Studio Penny Lane evolved out of the tragic loss of Conrad Morales, a very dear friend of Laurie Wilson. Their relationship began in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and was defined by friendship, trust and compassion. Conrad’s death on August 25th, 2007, resulted from an overdose and the resultant accidental fall on July 3rd, 2007 a year and a half after the horrific deaths of his two young sons. Deeply affected by the passing of her close friend, Laurie realized Conrad left her with the gift of clarity and passion she needed to fulfill her longtime goal of making a difference by improving the lives of others.
Conrad Morales was raised in the low-income projects of L.A., and became a victim of his environment and himself. He grew up into a life of drugs, a demon he was never able to conquer, surrounded by gangs and violence. At 23 he found himself in prison in the United States, later to be deported to Mexico. Not permitted to re-enter the United States, Conrad’s four children were shuffled between their mother, relatives, and foster homes. Two of Conrad’s sons, Conrad Jr.-13, and Ricky-11 were placed in the care of an Aunt and Uncle on their mother’s side, Raul and Cathy Sarinana.
What followed was gross abuse, brutal beatings and ultimately the gruesome deaths of Conrad Jr. and Ricky. The Sarinana’s were charged with murder with a special circumstance of torture and eventually sentenced to the death penalty. The death of his two children haunted Conrad for the remainder of his life. He was never able to escape the heartbreak, the pain, and the responsibility. He realized how his childhood had contributed to this senseless circle. Too often self-medicated to escape the relentless pain, Conrad worked in the final year of his life to reach a place of forgiveness for the choices he had made when young that ultimately placed his children in harm’s way.
Despite his history, Conrad was a person of a pure heart, and, as a boy, he believed he was worthy and meant to do something meaningful. Before his death, there were many conversations about what could have changed his life and given him the tools to be aware he did have choices. Before his passing he realized if he could have only stopped, before he acted, to understand the consequences of his actions, his life and those of his children would have been vastly different. After Conrad’s death, Laurie conceptualized Studio Penny Lane as an effort to help others avoid the fate of Conrad and his children. Laurie’s vision, to empower children to choose a path that coincides with their true nature, one of compassion and kindness, was Conrad’s gift and blessing.
Check out a bit more about our history from our most recentTedx Talk:
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