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10:16 AM

Arts Project Addressing Toxic Stress Earns National Recognition

A prevention program developed by MetroHealth to address toxic stress experienced by students within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has earned national recognition.

The SAFE (Students Are Free to Express) Project earned a 2020 Hamilton International Arts in Health Award from the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH).

The first-place award in the category of Arts Advancing Social Justice is in recognition of the program's impact on socioeconomically and racially oppressed communities. The Hamilton Awards are evaluated by a panel of national and international judges and are awarded by the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH).

SAFE is an arts-based, psychologically informed primary prevention model designed to address mental health and well-being in urban youth exposed to trauma and toxic stress. Founded in 2018, the project is a collaboration between MetroHealth's School Health and Arts in Health programs and arts partners Kulture Kids, Inlet Dance Theatre and The Black Card Project.

More than 1,000 CMSD students from pre-kindergarten through first grade and 9th through11th grade have been exposed to SAFE Project programming, including spoken word poetry, music, visual art and dance.​

MetroHealth staff leading the project are Lisa Ramirez, PhD, director of community and behavioral health for the School Health Program; Linda Jackson, director, Arts in Health; Katie Davis, director, School Health Program; Courtney Hutchinson, coordinator, Arts in Health community programming and Alexandrea Golden, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow

A generous donation in 2019 from JoAnn and Bob Glick is enabling expansion of the program to reach and impact even more students.

About The MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System, Cuyahoga County’s public health system, is honoring its commitment to create a healthier community by building a new hospital on its main campus in Cleveland. The building and the 25 acres of green space around it are catalyzing the revitalization of MetroHealth’s West Side neighborhood.

MetroHealth broke ground on its new hospital in 2019. The project is being financed with nearly $1 billion the system borrowed on its own credit after dramatically improving its finances. In the past five years, MetroHealth’s operating revenue has increased by 40% and its number of employees by 21%. Today, its staff of 8,000 provides care at MetroHealth’s four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. In the past year, MetroHealth has served 300,000 patients at more than 1.4 million visits in its hospitals and health centers, 75% of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

The health system is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to teaching and research. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses a Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school of science and health.

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