Does art have the power to heal? The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s Porch Light Program thinks it does. The Porch Light Program, a collaboration with the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, works closely with communities to uplift public art as an expression of community resilience and a vehicle of personal and community healing. We create murals that focus specifically on mental health and substance use, as well as other issues that affect our mental health including faith and spirituality, homelessness, trauma, immigration, war and community safety and tensions.
As part of the Porch Light Program, we are thrilled to be a part of the Community Wellness Project and create a Community Wellness Mural. What exactly is community wellness? Well, we all agree that public health initiatives such as wearing a helmet, fluoride in our drinking water, or hand washing are important steps towards making a healthier community. But what public health initiatives exist for mental and emotional health? Now Philadelphia is home to the first public health initiative aimed at our emotional well being using public art! Over the course of the project we will hold workshops, trainings, screenings, and dialogues aimed at increasing awareness and improving our emotional well being by mobilizing community support and cohesion. The project will culminate in a stunning mural about wellness for everyone to enjoy for decades to come.
By using a public art/public health framework, this project will:
- Promote a holistic and comprehensive vision of wellness
- Promote emotional health development and wellness as a critical part of overall health
- Increase awareness of health resources in Philadelphia
- Inspire conversation and dialogue about what makes our lives, communities, and city healthy
- Draw attention to determinants of health including social, economic, physical, or geographical environment
We will draw on existing frameworks to guide the project as it moves forward. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has an exciting Wellness Initiative with a holistic approach to wellness. This framework will serve as a structure to the project and provide useful language and categories for partnership and event development.