There has been a lot of talk about TheStudio:JAX recently. It’s an idea I (Carmen) came up with over a year ago. Check out the first sketch done of TheStudio:JAX on March 2nd, 2017 (very rough draft in my notebook!)
1 year and 3 months…
That’s how long I’ve been working on breathing life into this idea. I’ve been advocating HARD for this space over the past year. I’ve spoke with The United Way, NAMI, Mental Health America, LSF, Baptist Health, The NEFL Peer Support Network, volunteers and advocates. We even held a HUGE 120-person event to launch the idea to the community (Mosaic) in hopes that we’d garner more community support. I’ve even visited peer centers in Lauderhill, FL-Asheville, NC and Boston, MA. to learn more about what’s happening in their peer centers.
While I’ve found that people are excited about the idea of a space, I am sad to say that we are no closer to opening a space now than when I started over a year ago.
If We Had A Physical Space:
- Fine Arts education: painting, drawing, watercolor, ceramics
- Peer Support Groups: Bipolar Support Group, Depression Support Group, Anxiety Support Group, Hearing Voices Support Group, OCD Support Group, Suicide Support Group, Life Skills group, Post Partum Support Group…the possibilities are endless
- Life Skills Training & Work Skills Programming: Communication Classes, Social Media Safety, Entrepreneurship, Problem Solving Skills, Job Skills,
- Gallery Space: This will be a place where members can submit work and have their own solo show along with art opening night with their work installed for one month
- Recovery Focused Education: WRAP classes, General Health Classes, Walkers Club, Healthy Eating Classes, Gardening Classes, etc.
- Peer Certification Support: Peer mentorship and opportunities for hours, help completing the application to become peer certified, supervision for those needing internship hours
Does It Already Exist?
Not in Jacksonville but we are modeling TheStudio:JAX after an amazing drop-in-center located in Lauderhill, FL, called 9Muses Art Center 9Muses has been successfully running for over 20 years and is funded by Mental Health America in Broward. Additionally, I have visited two other peer drop-in centers in both Asheville, NC and Boston, MA in order to obtain fresh ideas about what is working well in different cities.
Who Could We Be A Resource To?
- People living with a mental health diagnosis in Jacksonville, FL
- Smaller agencies that do not have a “space” to host larger groups
- College interns
- Individuals looking to gain volunteer hours to gain peer certification to gather volunteer hours for probation (case by case basis)
- Individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness who would like a creative way to spend their day
So What Will Happen NOW?
Good question! We recently started collaborating with another small nonprofit titled Where Is the Sunshine. Both Jeanine and I recognize we are #strongertogether and since joining forces we realize we can STILL create TheStudio:JAX and even though we may not have an actual location, we will be a sort of co-op between two organizations whose missions support one another and whose visions are aligned.
What TheStudio:JAX can offer NOW:
- Individual (one on one) Peer Support (Upon request. Email: [email protected])
- Monthly Expressive Arts Community Groups (no cost to you)
- Opportunity to collect volunteer hours through events and leading groups
- We provide a space for individuals to use their creative freedom to share ideas they may have for special programming
- We provide peer-based training in how to tell your story in an engaging way that is safe for you and others
- We have an “artist bank” of creative individuals who would like to participate in opportunities to show their work
- We provide classes in: becoming an entrepreneur, surviving social media, using art as a change agent, how to sell your artwork/craft
- We provide opportunities to increase social skills through peer engagement
Mental Health Education and Awareness
- Whenever we can we advocate for those unable to advocate for themselves-whether that be through using our voices, using our words by writing or advocating to the legislature
- We provide Mental Health First Aid
- We are a resource for individuals looking for other groups and connections in the city
- Speakers bank of trained individuals who have decided to use their story to inspire others
#JAXPEERSRULE <—that’s our hashtag, ya’ll