Cleveland, OH,
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

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit