A Mural on Health and Wellness at Alachua Academy

Alana Jackson, Service Learning Lecturer at the UF Center for Arts in Medicine and Sarah Hinds, artist in residence at UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine recently worked with adolescent women at the DOJ’s Alachua Academy creating a mural focusing on health and wellness.

Step one: The artists facilitated a collaborative brainstorming session around mental wellness with the girls living at the detention center. They talked about the difference between physical and mental health, and the difference between mental health and mental illness. They discussed ways to stay mentally well, healthy coping mechanisms, and visual imagery that evoked mental well-being. The girls had great ideas including ideas about butterflies emerging from chrysalis to represent growth and lotus flowers emerging from the mud to represent beauty though adversity.

Step two: Sarah led acrylic painting lessons and Alana followed by facilitating a poetry sessions. The girls selected quotes from their own poetry and quotes from inspirational women to include in the mural design then drew and painted each element of the mural.

The girls had many positive things to say about the process and the product. “Look y’all! We finally came together on something!” “This turned out way better than I thought!” Through brainstorming, inclusion and collaboration, they gained ownership of the project, pride in their work and transformed the walls of the Academy through the arts.

The project was funded by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.