Co-created by glass artist Pearl Dick and clinical psychologist Bradley Stolbach with the support of a University of Chicago Medicine Urban Health Initiative Faculty Fellowship, Project FIRE is a partnership of Healing Hurt People – Chicago, Firehouse Glass Studio, and ArtReach Chicago. The 2016 Project FIRE summer cohort was supported by the Leo S. Guthman Fund, and Fall 2016 sessions were funded in part by The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities. We are grateful to the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation and to all who’ve supported us through purchases and donations for making the 2017 cohort possible.
Glass blowing demands focus—you need to leave everything else at the door or you can get hurt. Glass blowing also requires collaboration and communication because most pieces cannot be done alone. The adrenaline rush glass blowing provides, and the teamwork it requires, helps in the healing of these youth.
Based in part on a longitudinal study of gun violence in Chicago, researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association have made an argument that gun violence is a public health concern, explaining how it can spread like an infectious disease. Researchers noted that those victimized by violence live in very small social networks. These networks and their geographic spaces are characterized by entrenched segregation and poverty, a lack of viable educational and employment opportunities, as well as the absence of physical and mental health resources.
1) Prevent violence in youth who are among those at highest risk for violence through a combination of glass arts education, mentoring, and trauma-specific psychoeducation.
2) Offer youth a safe place to connect with peers facing similar struggles, and provide protective, positive, safe relationships with older youth and adults.
3) Provide a program that functions as a sustainable ecosystem that gives participating youth concrete art skills and certifications, management experience, and other social-emotional supports that also support and stabilize the Firehouse studio.