Art With Impact (AWI) promotes mental wellness by creating a space for young people to learn and connect through art and media. Art has the potential to reach people in ways that words can’t, and the organization harnesses this medium to engage with young people on the topic of mental health both online and in person. AWI envisions a future where artists and their art are treasured as icons of bravery and diversity, empowering people to talk about mental health without restrictions, fear, or stigma.
AWI’s mission and vision are reflections of their larger message: they believe art can change lives. Whether you’re creating art or experiencing art, it holds a truly unique power to inspire profound change in individuals and in society. OLIVE, the organization’s Online Library for Interactive Video and Engagement, supports promising new artists who create exceptional short films based on various themes in mental health. With more than 35 titles in their library, the films address a wide variety of mental health issues, different types of stigma, and diversity in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and nationality. Their film “Gladys,” for example, features a young Latina woman who has immigrated to the United States and is struggling to understand and receive support for the depression she’s experiencing in this new culture. “Chained” is a film told through metaphor about the posttraumatic stress experienced by a war veteran. “Three” follows the stories of three college students—a dancer with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, a young woman with social anxiety, and a young man with bulimia—and how their stories connect. These films, and all others in their library, can be viewed on the AWI website.
AWI’s staff also shares their stories illustrating the power of art in their own lives. One piece tells the story of a young girl who realizes the music she is practicing on her piano is provoking an emotional reaction she hadn’t noticed before, which helps her connect with the inherent value and beauty of her life and art. Another explores the life of a sexual violence survivor who processes her experiences by writing a play. When she watches fellow students perform her work, she feels herself begin to heal.
AWI creates opportunities for engagement via high school and college workshops, which showcase films from OLIVE; teach media literacy, filmmaking, and mental health awareness; and connect students to community resources. These platforms use the transformative power of film to increase compassion, promote empathy, and inspire students to tell the stories that matter most to them. AWI’s purpose is to engage young people, artists, professionals, and academic institutions in sustainable partnerships that revere art as a catalyst for cultural change.