University of Bridgeport (UB) security guard Harry Bell, who has inspired hundreds of kids by providing them with coloring books and limitless positive thoughts, was honored when Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim proclaimed November 26 to be “Harry Bell Day.”

The festive celebration was held at the Mayor’s Office.

“It’s amazing!” said Bell. “I’m shocked, happy, and humbled all at once.“

Bell is a security officer at UB. But he is quickly gaining notoriety for Color a Positive Thought and Color a Positive Thought 2, inspirational coloring books he designed specifically for kids growing up without ample resources (and sometimes hope) to achieve their dreams.

Simple and direct, the Color a Positive Thought books are filled with simple images that pack unbound possibility. (The illustrations in were co-created with fellow UB security guard Ed Hernandez.) In one panel, for example, a housing project is juxtaposed with the White House. The message, Bell said, is “out of every negative situation, there’s a way out,” said Bell.

That sentiment—which can too often sound like a hackneyed greeting card—resonates with kids because it’s backed by Bell’s own experience and authenticity. Bell was a newborn when his drug-addicted mother left him at the hospital, but he was raised by an aunt, encouraged by an older cousin, and watched over by an elementary school teacher named Howard Owens, who became a lifelong friend.

He grew up in Trumbull Gardens, public housing located in Bridgeport’s North End. Though only a child at the time, Bell forced himself to write down positive thoughts on slips of paper, things like “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish” and “If you can stand tall in the dark, you will be amazed of what you can do in the light.”

Today, those sentiments fill Bell’s two Color a Positive Thought coloring books. The books have been translated into Spanish and in 2016, the Bridgeport School District adopted them for its curriculum. They are also a central piece to a mentoring program Bell founded and has grown to include eight staff mentors who meet with kids twice a month. The goal: to empower kids and teens so they can believe in and achieve positive change. (One of Bell’s favorite commands is “believe!”)

Soon after Harry Bell Day was proclaimed, Sen. Blumenthal praised Bell’s work, calling it “such a model of how lives can be changed.”

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu