Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Youth Create Wholeness

Here is a project near and dear to my heart:

Last year SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Ads Center awarded a grant to some friends of mine to create art, community and social inclusion for people in recovery. This project reached out most directly to 18 to 25 year olds with a message of self-direction, empowerment and peer support.

What went down was a series of "art raves" in Charlottesville, VA; the painting of a magic bus in Williamsburg, VA and a mural with the Monacan Indian Nation at Bear Mountain in Amherst County, VA.

Getting money to create artwork is dreamy, and then the hard work sets in. Thankfully it is fun and connecting and gratifying. It is a time to see people at their best.

Now I will show you a whole bunch of pictures, which will speak louder than words.

Magnetized Tyvek signs to move around town. Painted by artists Flora Baily, Nina Burke and Jona Baily along with the other 20 cool community folk who showed up last Saturday.

 Flora is smiling because she brang this project into the world
 a brilliant wild cat, a "spirit animal" chosen by one of the Moancan youth
 at work on the mural
 Spirtworks: "Recovery on Wheels" I made that up. They probably have something more clever.

And here is some moss on a rock of the strikingly beautiful bear mountain. Even the smallest children seem reverent (at least the times that I saw them!)

Further infomation:

Here is the link to the Ads Center http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov/CSI/default.aspx and here is what they have to say about themselves: "People with mental health and substance use problems are more likely to fully recover and rebuild their lives when they have access not only to care and services, but also to social, economic, educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities that most citizens take for granted. A socially inclusive society promotes the necessary supports and opportunities for people in recovery to contribute to their communities as peers, parents, employees, residents, students, volunteers, teachers, and active citizens."

Here is the link to the Monacan Nation: http://www.monacannation.com/aboutus.shtml

"Bear Mountain in Amherst County has been the home of the Monacan people for more than 10,000 years. The earliest written histories of Virginia record that in 1607, the James River Monacan (along with their Mannahoac allies on the Rappahannock River) controlled the area between the Fall Line in Richmond and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The most western of Virginia's eight tribes, the Monacan Nation - over 1,700 strong - preserves our past heritage and ancient customs, bringing together the Siouan language and culture."

Here is the link to Youth Create Wholeness: http://www.vocalvirginia.org/#/youth/4557449041"Our mission is to empower youth with mental health disabilities to transform their communities and selves. We encourage youth to define and discover their own paths to recovery and wellness, and provide the tools to work within the mental health system as well as to build alternative systems of support. We do this work through sharing our own experiences and knowledge. We build power and community through self-expression.

We know that our identities as people who have experienced emotional turbulence, mental health crisis, or extreme states of consciousness (commonly labeled as "mental illness”) are lived in context of our background. We are not just our diagnoses or our lack of diagnosis; we are human beings and we are complex. We know that only by affirming our lives and experiences as people with different kinds of dis/abilities, people of many faiths or none, people of color and indigenous people, poor and working class people, and people with varying expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity, can we integrate ourselves and our communities and live in wholeness."

And the link to Spiritworks Foundation Center for the Recovery of the Soul:

"The mission of SpiritWorks Foundation is to help individuals and families sustain long term recovery from addiction, and to help children and youth live free from the intergenerational cycle of addiction in their families"