A porch light symbolizes warmth and security. It is an invitation to a safe space sheltered from the most challenging elements; a space where one can truly be well. In light of recent national tragedies, the need is greater than ever to work together in creating safe and inviting spaces in our own communities. The City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program and Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) recognize this need and are proud to present The Porch Light Program – a groundbreaking public art approach to achieving health and wellness in Philadelphia. Porch Light 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.A NEW APPROACH: PUBLIC ART IN PUBLIC HEALTH
The Porch Light Program builds a team of artists, service providers, program participants, community members, and city-wide stakeholders to collaborate on a transformative public art project. The program strives to catalyze positive changes in the community, improve the physical environment, create opportunities for social connectedness, develop skills to enhance resilience and recovery, promote community and social inclusion, shed light on challenges faced by those with behavioral health issues, reduce stigma, and encourage empathy.WHOM DO WE ENGAGE?
Each Porch Light site is a bit different but, in general, we strive to consistently engage approximately 30 individuals receiving services at behavioral health and social service agencies in weekly art workshops as well as the broader community. We also make it a priority to engage communities as a whole through paint days, health forums, and community meetings. In the past two years alone, we have enrolled 374 program participants and worked with over 3000 community members!HOW DOES THE PORCH LIGHT PROGRAM ASSESS ITS IMPACT?
The Yale School of Medicine is currently conducting community-based participatory research in three Porch Light communities to assess the program’s impact on individual and community-level health outcomes. The rigorous evaluation design includes a process evaluation including the careful tracking of program activities as well as a longitudinal outcome evaluation including individual interviews, qualitative case studies, community surveys, systematic observations, comparison sites, and archival data. Findings from the study are available HERE
The Porch Light manual provides an overview of the program model and its implementation. We describe the program’s rationale, phases of implementation, and the participation of various community stakeholders in the cocreation of public murals. Also included is a brief overview of the evaluation conducted in collaboration with our partners from Yale University. Full findings from the study are available HERE