‘Refine’ mural tour seeks to promote health and wellness

REDLANDS, California (Jan. 24, 2018)— For six weeks beginning in January, the University of Redlands’ Alliance for Community Transformation and Wellness (ACTW)—an organization dedicated to advancing individual and institutional care for mental health in the Inland Empire—will loan San Bernardino artist Ivan Preciado’s Refine mural to the Center for Educational Justice display in five Inland Empire schools: Redlands High School, Beaumont High School, San Jacinto High School, Grand Terrace High School, and Redlands East Valley High School. 

            The tour was conceptualized following the mural’s creation at last February’s Vibe Festival of Wellness, an on-campus, wellness-themed event initiated by ACTW. After the festival, the five-panel mural was initially stored outside of the public eye until ACTW founder and U of R School of Education Professor Janee Both Gragg realized “there was valuable messaging in this mural, because of the context within which it was created, who the artist is, the campus involvement, and the motivation of the piece.” To best spread the message of the mural, Both Gragg decided it should be displayed at Inland Empire high schools, where models of social emotional learning may play an influential role in students’ decisions regarding their own health and wellness.

            The ACTW, part of the U of R School of Education, was founded by Both Gragg in 2014. Through it, Both Gragg and her team have worked on a number of initiatives, most prominent the annual Vibe Festival of Wellness, to reshape the community and individual approach to mental health and care. According to Both Gragg, one of the greatest goals of the ACTW “is to contextualize mental health as one aspect of lots of things that require our attention to advance overall quality of life.”

The ACTW derives this approach from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Eight Dimensions of Wellness” model, in which mental health is seen as being just as important as any other aspect of a person’s health. This year, along with the Refine Mural Tour and the Vibe Festival, the ACTW will focus efforts on supporting mental health infrastructure in Inland Empire Latino communities, along with Sana Mente, the Spanish language version of state mental health movement Each Mind Matters. Regarding cultural differences in the area of mental health and the current initiative, Both Gragg says “the research shows us there are differences in access and utilization across cultures, which is why I have so much respect for California to say we have to do more to support mental health in our communities, and why I feel incredibly honored to be given resources to do that important work.”

            On May 12, 2018, the mural will return to the University for the ACTW Vibe Festival of Wellness, featuring interactive health and wellness education, live music, local vendors and more. All proceeds will benefit ACTW and other organization’s efforts in the Inland Empire.