Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

JEVS Human Services

Name of Innovative Program: 
Porch Light Mural Arts Initiative
Sponsoring Organization
JEVS Human Services
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Thomas Baier
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
At the JEVS program for substance abuse, Achievement through Counseling and Treatment (ACT) we treat long-term opiate abusers in a recovery program that continually evolves as we attempt to re-integrate our program participants into family and social systems.  A unique opportunity recently gave us the ability to expand our innovative use of the arts as enrichment to the recovery process. With the associated goals of providing a catalytic force to create positive changes in the community, reduce stigma, shed light on the challenges faced by those with substance abuse issues and encourage empathy among community members, the Porch Light Mural Arts initiative continues to produce results long after the final brush stroke of our first mural entitled Personal Renaissance.  Engaged participants have gone on to school, obtained meaningful employment, and designed and painted their own murals with a new sense of achievement, many for the very first time.
Creativity and Innovation: 
With the lessons of creativity, cooperative labor and problem solving, the program has evolved into poetry writing with the poetry now integrated into a mural that wraps itself around the ACT clinic where program participants are consistently re-exposed to their own words, a music band named “loud Recovery” and the planting of a perennial garden, all of which contribute to a well-rounded recovery program.
Beyond the leadership involved in coordinating the many elements involved in the design and creation of a 300’ x 100’ work of art, significant leadership evolved within the ranks of the program participants involved in the mural project. This resulted in continuing initiatives that have now included two more murals including an interior mural designed by a program participant. We constantly host leadership from other behavioral health components of numerous American cities as they look to replicate our recovery-based arts programs.
We are currently involved in assisting several other behavioral health agencies in replicating our efforts and most recently participated in the dedication of another mural with the focus of suicide prevention. During the painting itself, we had the opportunity to host a group of foreign college students who painted along with our program participants and were eager to learn how recovery from substance abuse and the arts might be integrated. We are currently working with Temple University’s department of architecture in offering an award for a student-designed lighting design so that the mural might be lighted during evening hours.
This mural initiative has already been presented at one behavioral health state conference and has been submitted for presentation at several 2013 national conferences as well. We continue to act as consultants to other agencies considering similar projects. Finally, we continue to replicate our own efforts and are planning yet another mural designed and painted by our program participants.  
Our results continue to mount and are reflective in several of our participants gaining employment at Mural Arts itself, the continuing interest in replicating these efforts both by ourselves and other behavioral health agencies. In addition to all the numerous outcomes that are contributing to our clients struggle for continued recovery (insight/self awareness, self esteem enhancement and positive recognition), one inadvertent outcome has been the elimination of any graffiti, which, at one time, was a considerable problem for us. We believe that the community’s investment in contributing to the mural has created a sense of ownership of this public space.