WHAT IS THE PORCH LIGHT PROGRAM?
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. Preliminary findings from the study will be available in 2014.
THE FUTURE OF PORCH LIGHT
National foundations, health leaders from across the country, and universities are looking at the Porch Light Program closely as an example of progressive public health promotion. With generous support from our sponsors, we are honing the Porch Light model with the goal of replicating it beyond Philadelphia city limits. We hope our work will continue to be replicated across Philadelphia and become a national model for an innovative approach to promoting healthy communities.
The Porch Light Program is made possible by support from the following generous supporters: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Independence Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, The Patricia Kind Family Foundation, Hummingbird Foundation