learn / 2021

Transcendent Healing Project

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The 3 Lines Collective

The Transcendent Healing Project, a collaboration of 3 Lines Collective and Wholistic Health Collaborative, aims to support youth of color in healing racial trauma through various forms of self expression. Youth aged 14-18 will attend afterschool programming that provides a safe space for discussing issues related to race and racism with the support of a licensed therapist. Healing will take place through discussion, creation of art and media, and participation in improv and creative writing classes.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • Westside

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The death of George Floyd in May 2020 served as an awakening for many people, catapulting the Black Lives Matter movement into a global spotlight. But tragically, for many people of color, George Floyd’s death was just another event in a long line of racial trauma they experience throughout their lives. Witnessing or being the direct target of racism is a well-researched determinant of physical and emotional health among people of color. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, racism has a particularly significant impact on youth, including increased rates of infant mortality, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health issues. The door has been opened for dialogue among youth about race and racism in America, and many have taken to social media to express their experiences and opinions. But this is not enough; safe places must be intentionally created to allow youth of color to express themselves and heal from the racial trauma they experience on a daily basis.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

The Transcendent Healing Project (THP) combines positive youth development programming with therapeutic elements, providing youth with a safe space to discuss and process issues related to race and racism. Youth will attend weekly 1 hour virtual afterschool sessions (moving to in-person as restrictions allow), where they will discuss past experiences with race, with the guidance of licenced therapists before participating in creative arts activities as a tool for expression and healing. Youth will have the opportunity to create pieces of art and writing throughout their sessions, leading to the production of a zine which will be distributed to the community. Creative writing and improv lessons will be led by experienced instructors that have seen success in related programming. When 3 Lines has led virtual creative arts classes in the past, many youth wanted to discuss issues related to personal trauma, which the instructors felt unprepared to address. Incorporating licensed therapists into the program will provide youth the support they need to move out of their negative feelings into growth and action. THP will also bring their work to the community through contact-free monthly drive-through resource events, where books and groceries will be distributed to those in need. The resource bags will include reading materials that focus on topics of equity and inclusion, including books written by people of color, in addition to youth-produced writing.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

According to the Afterschool Alliance, nearly 362,000 additional children in LA would attend afterschool programs if one were available, and 79% of parents indicate that these programs reduce the likelihood that youth will engage in risky behaviors. With key protective factors associated with participation in afterschool programs such as academic support and connection with positive adult role models, THP’s afterschool program will contribute to the positive development of LA County’s young residents. Feelings of alienation and low self-esteem, often experienced by youth of color, are known risk factors for youth. THP’s therapeutic component will allow youth to develop positive coping skills, which they can then share with peers, increasing the mental health of the community as a whole. THP’s food and resource distribution will also impact community health outcomes; with nearly 2 million residents affected by food insecurity (LA Food Bank), THP aims to provide assistance in this area.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

While similar programming has been piloted on a small scale, THP is still an early-stage project. Qualitative data indicating success was collected through therapist notes and discussions about how the sessions were progressing. Self-esteem among participants was observed to increase significantly throughout the course of the programming, with therapists indicating that youth became more open and confident in trying new things. All participants in THP will complete an evidence-based teen risk and protective factors checklist before and after their 8 week session. Teens will indicate which statements are true for them, such as “I feel good about myself” and “I feel positive about my future”. Improvement will be shown in at least two areas by the end of their sessions, either through adding a protective factor or eliminating a risk factor. In addition, formal research will be conducted by a Psychologist, which will be published to address the impact of THP on youth mental health.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Wholistic Health Collaborative (WHC), founded by licensed Psychologist Dr.Emily Shum, provides individual, family, and group therapy and psychological assessment services. Dr.Shum, along with a small team of licensed therapists, will provide staffing for THP sessions, guiding therapeutic conversations with the participants. Therapists will also take notes during sessions, to be used to assess the impact of the programming through a formal research paper to be submitted to a peer-reviewed professional journal.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • Arts education
  • Enrollment in afterschool programs
  • High school graduation rates

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CREATE
  • LA is the best place to PLAY
  • LA is the best place to CONNECT
  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE